It’s a fact…diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. Startlingly, upwards of 40 percent of individuals with diabetes will also ultimately develop chronic kidney disease.
How are diabetes and kidney disease related?
The purpose of our kidneys is to balance chemicals in the body, control blood pressure and keep our bones healthy, as well as remove waste and extra fluid from the blood. The kidneys’ filters are comprised of tiny blood vessels (called glomeruli), which can be damaged by high blood sugar levels, which in turn can lead to diabetic kidney disease. After the kidneys are damaged in this way, they can’t be repaired, and if not treated early, can progress further to kidney failure.
Is it possible to tell if the kidneys are being damaged?
Unfortunately, signs of kidney damage are not noticeable until after kidney disease has already been developed, and there aren’t any symptoms in advance to let us know if diabetes has harmed the kidneys. The only way to become aware of kidney damage is to be tested, and then to test again on a routine basis, since early detection can slow the progression of the disease. A physician can order these simple tests to show how well the kidneys are functioning.
How can the kidneys be protected?
Diabetic kidney disease occurs gradually over time, which means it’s possible to take precautions to protect the kidneys. And even if the kidneys are already damaged, controlling diabetes helps prevent the damage from getting worse.
The steps that can prevent diabetic kidney disease are the same as those to slow the disease:
Maintaining safe blood sugar levels: Because high blood sugar can lead to kidney damage, it’s crucial to monitor blood sugar levels regularly and work with the diabetes care team to make sure those levels stay within the blood glucose goal range.
Keep blood pressure levels consistent: Right after diabetes, high blood pressure is the next leading cause of kidney failure. Those with both diabetes and high blood pressure are at an increased risk of developing kidney disease.
Control cholesterol: High cholesterol can speed up the progression of kidney disease.
Remain physically fit: Daily physical activity can help control blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels.
Refrain from tobacco: Smoking reduces the flow of blood to the kidneys. As a result, kidneys are unable to function at their best. Smoking also has can raise blood sugar and make it harder for the body to appropriately use insulin.
Stick to a proper diabetic diet and maintain a healthy weight: Selecting healthy foods, eating smaller portions and eating more frequently can help control diabetes and lower the risk of developing problems. Work in conjunction with a dietitian or doctor to plan meals and learn what is healthiest for you.
Be careful with pain meds: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen reduce the flow of blood to the kidneys, and regular use can lead to kidney damage. Seek the recommendations of the doctor, as ongoing use of these types of medications needs to be monitored.
For help with managing the many facets of diabetes, kidney disease, or both, partner with Hired Hands Homecare for trusted in-home care. We begin with the creation of a personalized plan of care that covers the full range of a senior’s individual needs and wishes, and then monitor and update the plan as those needs change. You can contact us online or call us any time at (866) 940-4343.