What Is the Connection between Proteinuria and Diabetes?

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  • Written By: Steven Symes
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2018
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The main connection between proteinuria and diabetes is that proteinuria is one of several potential symptoms of diabetes. Diabetics can suffer damage to their kidneys, which in turn causes chronic kidney disease. One of the potential results of the damage caused by chronic kidney disease is proteinuria, a condition in which a person's urine contains high levels of protein. Under normal conditions, the kidneys’ filters allow only small protein particles to pass into the urine, keeping the rest of the protein in the blood.

Some people have both proteinuria and diabetes, since diabetes puts people at an elevated risk of developing proteinuria. Diabetics might develop diabetic nephropathy, which is a type of kidney disease. As the condition develops, potentially over the space of several years, the diabetic patient might eventually suffer from kidney failure, which can in turn lead to proteinuria.

Several potential symptoms can indicate that a patient has proteinuria and diabetes. The presence of higher levels of proteins in a person’s urine can cause the urine to have extra foam. With the loss of protein, a person’s extremities begin to swell, including the person’s face. In the early stages, though, proteinuria normally does not have any symptoms and can only be detected through regular urinalysis.


Treatment for a person who has both proteinuria and diabetes involves several steps. Like any other diabetes case, the person must first gain control of his blood glucose levels, through proper diet and medication. A physician might also discover the person has high blood pressure, which can also damage the kidneys, and prescribe medication to bring it under control. Typically, patients begin by taking an Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitor to reduce the amount of protein in their urine. If the ACE inhibitors do not reverse the proteinuria, then a physician might prescribe an Angiotensen Receptor Blocker (ARB) to decrease the amount of protein in the patient’s urine.

There is not an exclusive relationship between proteinuria and diabetes, since proteinuria can be brought on by medical conditions other than diabetes. Some conditions that cause proteinuria in a person are not necessarily life-threatening, such as stress or engaging in regular strenuous exercise. Other conditions that lead to proteinuria can have serious or even life-threatening consequences, such as the development of toxic lesions in the kidneys, a serious urinary tract infection that has entered the kidneys or hypertensive nephropathy caused by chronic high blood pressure.



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