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High Blood Sugar and Chronic Kidney Disease

Provided by DaVita® Dietitians

Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in the United States. This metabolic disorder changes the way the body produces or uses insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate sugar (glucose) in the blood.

When blood sugar levels get too high, the condition is called hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is a problem for people with diabetes, and it poses a significant health risk when you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). If your diabetes is not controlled, it can lead to increased loss of kidney function, cardiovascular disease, vision loss and other complications. That’s why it is vital for people with kidney disease and diabetes to learn the symptoms of high blood sugar and develop ways to prevent it.

Symptoms of hyperglycemia

If you have diabetes you are likely to have had experience with hyperglycemia. Being aware of any indicators that your blood sugar levels may be too high is an important step in controlling your blood sugar. Symptoms of hyperglycemia include the following:

  • Dry skin
  • Hunger
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Thirst
  • Blurry vision

Causes of high blood sugar

There are many causes of high blood sugar, including:

Ways to prevent hyperglycemia

Although people with diabetes are at risk for hyperglycemia, the good news is there are steps you can take to help prevent it:

  • Always take your medicine as prescribed by your healthcare team.
  • Every day, eat three balanced meals that include protein, carbohydrate and fat, plus an evening snack if your dietitian recommends it.
  • Have your renal dietitian teach you exactly how many carbohydrate servings you can eat in one day and how to balance your meals.
  • Eat more high-fiber, low-sugar foods.
  • Keep track of your blood sugar, and when it is high, share this information with your doctor.
  • Check your blood sugar at least daily or as often as recommended.
  • Make sure your glucose machine is working properly and your testing strips are not expired.
  • Talk to your doctor about an appropriate exercise program to suit your particular health goals.


Many people with kidney disease also have diabetes. People with diabetes often experience hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. By being aware of the symptoms and causes of hyperglycemia, you can take steps to prevent it. Talk to your healthcare team and renal dietitian to learn all you can do to avoid hyperglycemia and protect your health.

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