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What Do Urine Tests Say About Diabetes?

When you have diabetes, you’re no stranger to tests that keep track of your disease. Most look at your blood, but there are others. Two simple ones that check your urine can help you and your doctor watch for kidney disease and severe high blood sugar.

Tests for Kidney Disease

About one-third of people with diabetes have problems with their kidneys. But early and tight control of your blood sugar and blood pressure, plus help from certain medications, can keep these organs working like they should

To check for problems, your doctor can do a test that measures the amount of protein in your urine, called microalbuminuria. It shows up when small amounts of albumin (the main protein in your blood) seep into your pee. Without treatment to slow the leak, your kidneys could be damaged and eventually fail.

You should get this test every year starting as soon as you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. That’s because high blood sugar is usually present many years before you find out you have the disease.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you probably won’t get the test until you’ve been diagnosed for 5 years.

What Does a Positive Result Mean?

If the test is positive, it means your kidneys can no longer filter the blood as well as they should. It also shows you have blood vessel disease that could lead to heart problems. Your doctor will probably suggest medications or lifestyle changes to help prevent these conditions:

  • Kidney damage. You may start specific medicines to prevent further harm. If your microalbumin level is high, your doctor may suggest another type of test that requires you to collect samples for 24 hours. This can better tell the extent of damage to the organs and see how well they’re working.
  • High blood sugar. Studies show tight control of your blood sugar can lower kidney damage, so your doctor may put you on more aggressive treatments.
  • Blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure reduces your risk of diabetes-related kidney damage. Get it checked each time you have an office visit. The recommended reading for most people with diabetes is less than 140/80.
  • Cholesterol. Since the microalbuminuria test suggests you’re at greater risk of getting heart disease, your doctor may try to get your cholesterol and other fats into a healthier range.
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