Kidney Failure​

Leading Cause – Diabetes

Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure in Singapore, accounting for 67% of new cases. Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not respond to insulin or is unable to produce insulin. When there is a shortage of insulin in the body and/or body resistance to insulin, the blood glucose level remains high. This can cause damage to the blood vessels in the kidney, as the nephrons have to work extra hard to filter the blood. Over time, they become damaged and lose their filtering ability.

To find out if you are at risk of developing diabetes, you may visit 

The National Kidney Foundation, CEO, Mr Tim Oeihas written an Open Letter Against Diabetes in conjunction with World Diabetes Day 2020 to raise awareness of diabetes’ dark shadow.

Diabetes Statistics in Singapore
There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is an autoimmune disease. 

The pancreas produces little or no insulin. It develops most often in children and young adults.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is the most common form of diabetes. 

The main defect here is body resistance to insulin where the pancreas produces insulin but the body does not use it properly. 

This develops mainly in adults and is associated with obesity.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy and is not clearly overt diabetes. 

This is seen in some women late in pregnancy and usually disappears after delivery.

Signs & Symptoms

Excessive thirst

Slow healing of cuts

Frequent urination

Sudden weight loss/gain

How does uncontrolled diabetes affect my kidneys?

  • Uncontrolled diabetes increases
    the sugar level in our blood, causing
    the kidneys to work harder to clean
    the blood
  • Over time, this damages the
    tiny filtering units in the kidneys
    called glomeruli
  • The kidneys begin to leak protein
    into the urine instead of staying in
    the blood
  • Kidney disease gets worse over time,
    leading to more fluid and toxic
    wastes staying in the blood

What to look out for?

Regular health screening is the best way to detect early signs of diabetes and obtain timely treatment. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of over 23.0kg/m2 (click here to calculate your BMI), first degree relative with diabetes and/or over 40 years old, you may like to see your family doctor for diabetes screening.

You have diabetes if your:

  • Fasting blood glucose is 7.0 mmol/L or higher
  • Random blood glucose is 11.1 mmol/L or higher
Tests Normal
Fasting Plasma Glucose
(Tested in the morning after 8 hours of overnight fasting)
≤ 6.0 6.1 — 6.9 ≥ 7.0
Random Blood Glucose
(A blood sample taken 2 hours after oral ingestion of a sugar solution)
< 7.8 7.8 — 11.0 ≥ 11.1

(MOH Clinical Practice Guidelines, 2014)     

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The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) strives to be an advocate and integrator for kidney health and holistic care for the community by the community. While supporting kidney failure patients with quality dialysis treatment and integrated care, its greater mission lies in preventing or delaying kidney failure through kidney health education with deeper integration into the community and strategic collaborative partnerships.
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