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Diabetic nephropathy

  • Definition

    Diabetic nephropathy is kidney disease or damage that occurs in people with diabetes.

    See also:

    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Risk factors for diabetes
    • Type 1 diabetes
    • Type 2 diabetes

    Alternative Names

    Kimmelstiel-Wilson disease; Diabetic glomerulosclerosis; Nephropathy - diabetic


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Each kidney is made of hundreds of thousands of small units called nephrons. These structures filter your blood and help remove wastes from your body.

    In people with diabetes, the nephrons thicken and slowly become scarred over time. The kidneys begin to leak and protein (albumin) passes into the urine.

    The exact cause is unknown. Poor control of blood sugar is thought to lead to kidney damage. If you also have high blood pressure, kidney damage is even more likely.

    In some cases, your family history may also play a role. Not everyone with diabetes develops this kidney problem.

    People with diabetes who smoke, and those with type 1 diabetes that started before age 20 have a higher risk for kidney problems.

    People of African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian origin are also more likely to have kidney damage.