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Kidney Health Testing for People With Diabetes

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Kidney Health Testing for People With Diabetes


If you have diabetes, your kidneys could become damaged over time. Diabetic kidney disease is sometimes called diabetic nephropathy. In severe cases, it can lead to kidney failure.

Diabetic kidney disease usually has no symptoms in the early stages. So it's important to have regular tests. They can alert you and your doctor to changes in your kidneys' health. Together, you can work on ways to treat your kidney disease and keep it from getting worse.

How is diabetic kidney disease diagnosed?

Diabetic kidney disease is diagnosed and watched over time using yearly tests that check how well your kidneys are working. These include a test that checks for a protein (albumin) in the urine. A blood test checks how well your kidneys are filtering waste from your blood. This is called the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).

An albumin urine test can detect very small amounts of protein in the urine. This allows doctors to find kidney disease early. Starting treatment early can prevent further damage to the kidneys.

The eGFR is measured using a formula that compares a person's size, age, and sex to blood creatinine levels. As kidney disease gets worse, the eGFR number goes down.

When your doctor will start checking your kidney function depends on the type of diabetes you have. After testing starts, it should be done every year.footnote 1

Kidney function testing

Type of diabetes

When to start yearly testing

Type 1 diabetes

After you've had diabetes for 5 years

Type 2 diabetes

When you are diagnosed with diabetes

Diabetes during childhood

After age 10 and after the child has had diabetes for 5 years

If your doctor thinks that the protein in your urine or a decreased eGFR may be caused by a disease other than diabetes, other blood and urine tests may be done. Some people may have a small sample of kidney tissue removed and checked. This is called a kidney biopsy.

Related Information



  1. American Diabetes Association (2023). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2023. Diabetes Care, 46(Suppl 1): S1–S280. Accessed March 15, 2023.


Current as of: October 2, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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