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December 2, 2000


Question from Alexandria, Virginia, USA:

I am 27 year old male who has had diabetes for almost four years. They believe I got diabetes as an autoimmune response. Can the same autoimmune response that caused diabetes be creating further complications?

I was recently diagnosed with kidney damage due to proteinuria, and I went on an ACE inhibitor. Now, three months later, I have heart problems and hypertension despite the medication. I always thought that complications occurred after a lot of years. Can there be rapid onset of diabetes complications?


From: DTeam Staff

Most of the information about type�1 diabetes suggests that the microvascular complications (kidney, eyes, nerves) are related to time with diabetes and the cumulative exposure to high blood sugars. There are also familial/genetic issues which probably increase or decrease susceptibility to developing the complications. Having clinical nephropathy or neuropathy after only four years is uncommon. The presence of heart problems may not be specifically related to diabetes. This also raises the question of whether or not the kidney problems you are having are specific to diabetes. I recommend talking to your physician to discuss the findings and see if you need to be seen by a specialist in kidney disease to make sure the kidney problems that were detected were truly due to diabetes and not some other condition.