Did you know diabetes is the number one cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the United States? That’s because, over time, excess blood glucose damages the tiny filters in the kidneys that remove fluid and waste from the bloodstream. More than 40 percent of all cases of kidney failure result from diabetes.

Slowing the damage

If diabetes is causing damage to your kidneys, certain medications can help slow down the loss of kidney function—but only if the kidney problems are caught early enough.

The only way to know whether diabetes is affecting your kidneys is through blood and urine tests. Here are three questions you should ask your doctor:

  1. Have I had an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) test in the past year? The eGFR test detects creatinine, a waste product, in the blood—and gives a measure of how well your kidneys are working.

  2. Has my urine been tested for abnormal amounts of protein in the past year? The blood protein albumin can leak into your urine if your kidneys are not working properly.

  3. Am I taking any medications that help protect my kidneys from diabetes? Some medications commonly used to treat high blood pressure also may help slow the progression of kidney disease caused by diabetes.

If you have diabetes, be sure to ask your health care provider whether your kidneys have been checked in the past year and what you can do to keep your kidneys healthy.