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Home > Knowledge & support > Type 1 complications > Kidney damage (nephropathy)
Your kidneys act as a filter to cleanse the blood and get rid of waste products. High blood glucose levels and high blood pressure can both cause the blood vessels and filters in the kidneys to become damaged. When this happens, protein can get into your urine where it shouldn’t be.
When the kidneys are damaged, they won’t work properly. It means other organs, like your heart, must work harder and it can put extra strain on them.
You’ll be offered a urine test and blood test every year. These will monitor the health of your kidneys and see how well they are working. These tests will be carried out as part of your annual review.
Physical symptoms may appear when kidney damage is more advanced. Symptoms include:
Kidney damage can be diagnosed through your routine blood and urine tests. These form part of your annual review.
The blood test will identify the level of a waste product called creatinine and estimates your glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). This calculation is how many millilitres of waste your kidneys should be able to filter in a minute.
The urine test looks for signs of any proteins or blood. Together with your blood test, it gives a more accurate picture of how well your kidneys are working.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of kidney damage, contact your GP or Diabetes Healthcare Team as soon as possible.
Other ways you can reduce your risk:
There are treatments to help relieve symptoms and stop it from getting worse.
The first option for treatment is usually to get your blood pressure under control using medication. You may also be offered diuretics, which help your body get rid of excess fluid.
If your kidney damage is more advanced, it’s called chronic kidney disease. But there are treatments that can help this condition.
If you experience any symptoms of nerve damage, speak to your GP or Diabetes Healthcare Team. They can help you to reduce the risk of damage getting worse and give you treatments to reduce your symptoms.
Research to help prevent and treat complications of type 1 is a vital part of our work. Our JDRF-funded researchers in Australia have identified specific genes in people with type 1 which can predict the development and progression of diabetic kidney disease. Find out more about this research.
Other JDRF-funded research here in the UK has found biological markers which are early signs that someone is starting to develop diabetic kidney disease. This crucial finding could help doctors diagnose people with kidney damage earlier and start treatment to help prevent further damage.
Find out how we’re funding research to make type 1 complications a thing of the past.
Find out how to manage your blood glucose levels, count carbs and deal with hypos and hypers.
Find out who can help when you have questions about type 1 diabetes complications.
Learn to spot the signs of retinopathy, how to reduce your risk, where to go for support and what the treatments are.
Good dental care and support is important if you have type 1 diabetes. Because of the extra glucose in your blood, you’re more at risk of gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss.
When blood glucose levels are high for a long time, it can damage the blood vessels and nerves. This can lead to a loss of blood supply to the legs and feet. It can also cause problems with your heart.
Living with type 1 diabetes can increase your risk of developing foot problems. Having type 1 reduces the blood supply to your feet and can cause a loss of feeling.
Nerves carry signals between your brain and other parts of your body. Over a long period of time, high blood glucose levels can cause damage to your nerves.
Genetic studies have shown that the same genetic changes that increase the risk of type 1 diabetes also increase the risk of other autoimmune conditions.