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Screening for Kidney Disease

What it is

People with diabetes are at a higher risk for kidney disease. This is because when there is too much sugar in the blood, the kidneys try to clean it out. Unfortunately, the sugar that the kidneys clean out begins to slowly kill the cells in the kidney.

To measure how well the kidneys are working, your healthcare provider should do a microalbuminuria test.   This test looks for small quantities of protein called albumin in a urine sample. High levels of the protein albumin in the urine indicate the start of a condition called microalbuminuria. Usually, this test is for a person who has been diabetic for several years.  It may show whether or not you are at risk for developing kidney disease.

How it Relates to Diabetes

Damage to the cells and blood vessels in the kidneys affects their ability to filter out waste. Waste in the blood will stay in the body instead of passing out of the body with urine. In some cases, if the damage goes on long enough, it can lead to kidney failure. When the kidneys fail, a person has to have his or her blood filtered through a machine every few days.  This treatment is called dialysis.  Another option is to get a kidney transplant.

The Quality Standard – How to Know You’re Okay

Your microalbumin (a protein in the urine) should be less than 30 mg/24 hours. Your health care provider should check this at least once a year. Your doctor can also do a yearly blood test to measure your kidney function.

What You Can Do

Ask your doctor about your kidney function and be sure you are tested at least once a year. All the things you do to care for diabetes help to protect your kidneys.  These include your:

  • exercise
  • diet
  • medication program.

To Learn More

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    This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

    Last Reviewed: Dec 07, 2012


    Professor of Medicine

    School of Medicine

    Case Western Reserve University

    Clinical Nurse Specialist

    Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing

    Case Western Reserve University