How to protect your kidneys if you have diabetes

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Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions worldwide and has significant implications for kidney health.

The kidneys play a crucial role in filtering waste from the blood and managing the body’s fluid balance.

Over time, high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage these organs, leading to diabetic kidney disease or diabetic nephropathy. Fortunately, there are effective steps to prevent this serious complication and maintain healthy kidney function.

Understanding the Risk

Diabetic kidney disease is one of the most common complications of diabetes. It occurs when the kidneys’ filtering units are damaged, reducing their ability to clear waste from the body.

This damage builds gradually and can eventually lead to kidney failure, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival.

The primary cause of kidney damage in diabetics is prolonged high blood sugar (glucose) and high blood pressure.

These conditions stress the kidneys and impair their filtering ability. Early intervention and management are crucial to prevent or delay the onset of diabetic kidney disease.

Preventive Measures

Control Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping blood glucose levels as close to target as possible is the most crucial step in preventing diabetic kidney disease. Consistent management of blood sugar slows the progression of kidney damage.

Studies have shown that maintaining a hemoglobin A1C (a measure of average blood glucose over the past three months) below 7% reduces the risk of microalbuminuria, an early sign of kidney disease.

Manage Blood Pressure

High blood pressure makes kidney disease worse. Keeping blood pressure under control (ideally below 140/90 mmHg) can help protect the kidneys. Medications such as ACE inhibitors and ARBs are often prescribed for diabetics because they not only control blood pressure but also offer additional protection to the kidneys.

Regular Kidney Screening

Early detection of kidney disease can significantly impact outcomes. Diabetics should have an annual test to measure their kidney function, typically a urine test for albumin (a protein) and a blood test for creatinine, which is used to estimate the filtering function of the kidneys.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Eating a kidney-friendly diet can help manage diabetes and reduce kidney stress. This diet includes controlling protein intake to reduce kidney workload and limiting foods high in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus if kidney damage is already present. A dietitian can provide personalized advice based on individual health needs.

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea, and toxins from the body, significantly reducing the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Avoid Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen can cause kidney damage if taken regularly. Diabetics, particularly those with existing kidney issues, should use these medications cautiously.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can worsen the effects of diabetes on the kidneys. Quitting smoking improves blood flow to the kidneys, helping them function properly and reducing the risk of further damage.

Manage Weight

Obesity is linked to both diabetes and kidney disease. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise can help manage both conditions.

Preventing kidney disease when you have diabetes involves a combination of good blood glucose control, blood pressure management, regular medical check-ups, and lifestyle changes.

By taking proactive measures, individuals with diabetes can protect their kidney health and significantly reduce the risks of severe complications. Early intervention and consistent management are key to living a healthy life with diabetes.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about pesticide linked to chronic kidney disease, and this drug may prevent kidney failure in people with diabetes.

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