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Get the Facts About Diabetes

Since I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, I’ve noticed I’m very thirsty. Does this mean I have a kidney disease?

Not necessarily. Being thirsty is one of the symptoms of diabetes. It doesn’t mean you have kidney disease. Your doctor can perform tests to determine how well your kidneys are working. Discuss any changes or symptoms you notice with your doctor. They will be able to give you information about what is happening in your body and perform any tests you may need.

I urinate a lot more than I used to. Are my kidneys working properly?

Frequent urination is a symptom of diabetes. It can be a concern, especially when it first occurs. This does not mean your kidneys are not working properly.

Your doctor can perform tests to determine if your kidneys are functioning as they should.

My doctor mentioned kidney disease when I was diagnosed with diabetes. He did a test and everything was fine, so I guess this means I don’t have a kidney disease, right?

Your doctor will continue to monitor you for other complications to diabetes, such as kidney disease. Kidney disease is chronic, which means it occurs over time. Many people do not even realize they have kidney disease. Often, it is not discovered until there is significant damage. However, since diabetes is one of the main causes for kidney disease, your doctor will be carefully monitoring and testing you for any early signs of kidney disease. Controlling your diabetes (through diet and/or medication) is important, not only in your general health, but also in preventing/delaying kidney disease.

If your blood sugar continues to be high, this can make kidney damage worse. So it’s important to follow your doctor’s directions. If he discovers some kidney damage, he may refer you to a doctor who specializes in kidney disease. This doctor is called a nephrologist.

Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your kidney function so that you can be tested or referred to a nephrologist.

I’ve heard you can survive with just one kidney. If diabetes damages one, I just need to be careful with the other one, right?

Yes, living with one kidney is possible. However, a disease like diabetes does not damage just one kidney. It damages both. One kidney may become more damaged than the other, but both are likely to have some damage.

It’s better to keep both kidneys healthy by following your doctor’s advice regarding diet, exercise and medication.

One of my parents had diabetes, but never got kidney disease. So this means I probably won’t have a kidney disease either, right?

Although diabetes can be hereditary, whether or not you develop kidney disease depends on a number of factors. Just because one family member had diabetes but never developed kidney disease doesn’t mean the same can happen to you.

A great deal depends on whether or not you follow your doctor’s advice and take any needed medication regularly. Diet and exercise are also important.

Where can I learn more about kidney disease?

You can learn more about kidney disease at DaVita.com. Other helpful resources are the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health website at http://www.nlm.nih.gov and the National Kidney Foundation website at http://www.kidney.org.