What is the connection between diabetes and kidney disease?
Besides balancing chemicals in your body, controlling blood pressure and keeping bones healthy, your kidneys clean waste and extra fluid from your blood. The filters in your kidneys are full of tiny blood vessels (called glomeruli) and high blood sugar can harm these glomeruli, which causes diabetic kidney disease. Once the kidneys are harmed like this, they cannot be fixed, and if not treated early, can lead to kidney failure.
Can you notice if your kidneys are being damaged?
Unfortunately, noticeable symptoms do not appear until after kidney disease has already progressed, so you will not be able to feel if diabetes has harmed your kidneys. The only way to know is to be tested, and be sure to test regularly because early detection can slow the progression of the disease. Your doctor can perform these simple tests to check how well your kidneys are functioning.
How can I protect my kidneys?
The good news is that diabetic kidney disease does not happen quickly, which means you can take steps to protect your kidneys! Even if your kidneys are already damaged, you can control your diabetes to help keep them from getting worse.
The steps to prevent diabetic kidney disease are the same steps needed to slow diabetic kidney disease.
- Control your blood sugar: Because high blood sugar can damage the kidneys, it is important to monitor your blood sugar regularly and work with your diabetes care team to keep your blood sugars within your blood glucose goal range.
- Control your blood pressure: Right behind diabetes, high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure. Having both diabetes and high blood pressure increases your risk of kidney disease.
- Control your cholesterol: High cholesterol speeds up the progression of kidney disease.
- Be physically active: Daily physical activity and exercise help control blood pressure and lower blood sugar.
- Avoid tobacco: Smoking reduces blood flow to the kidneys; therefore, kidneys cannot function at their best. Smoking also tends to raise blood sugar and makes it harder for your body to use insulin.
- Follow a proper diabetic diet and keep a healthy weight: Picking healthy foods, eating smaller meals and eating more often can help control diabetes and prevent problems. Work with a dietician to plan meals and learn what is right for you.
- Use pain medications with caution: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen reduce blood flow to the kidneys and regular use can trigger kidney damage. Seek the advice of your physician, as regular use of these medications should be monitored.
For help managing the many aspects of diabetes, kidney disease, or both, turn to Visiting Angels of California for certified senior care you can trust. We begin with a personalized plan of care that encompasses a full range of the senior’s individual needs and wishes, and then monitor and update the plan as these needs change. You can reach us any time at 408-735-0977 in Sunnyvale, or 510-284-0000 in Fremont.