Diabetes and Kidney Damage— What Are the Warning Signs?


Diabetes increases the risk of kidney damage, especially if blood sugar levels are not well-managed. Unfortunately, the warning signs and symptoms usually show up when the kidneys have already sustained damage for some time. Early diabetic kidney disease is difficult to detect without urine and blood tests. Here are some warning signs and early symptoms of diabetic kidney disease to look out for, but remember to get routine blood tests and check-ups to catch any damage early on.

The signs and symptoms of diabetic kidney disease are swollen hands, feet, and ankles due to fluid retention, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, nausea, and muscle cramps. Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) may also be a sign of diabetic kidney damage. In some cases, there may even be blood in the urine. Early-on symptoms are vague and include fatigue and low energy. If you have diabetes, you should get regular kidney check-ups to ensure everything is functioning well. The Urine-Albumin Creatinine ratio (U-ACR) test is a urine test that measures the presence of a protein known as albumin in the urine. If albumin is present, it’s a sign that the kidneys are damaged and are leaking out proteins.

Albumin in the urine can also cause the appearance of “frothy” urine, which is another symptom to look out for. Creatinine is a by-product of muscle breakdown that healthy kidneys filter out from the blood. If creatinine is present in high levels in the blood, it means the kidneys are not filtering the blood properly.

To keep your kidneys healthy with diabetes, make sure to manage your blood sugar levels by exercising regularly and eating healthy. Drink lots of water and limit your sodium intake to prevent fluid retention. You should also limit or avoid alcohol and tobacco use to further protect your kidneys.