Diabetics are at very high risk for chronic kidney disease. Diabetic kidney disease is the cause of kidney failure in one third of people on dialysis. 30-40 % of diabetics will develop some form of kidney disease over time.The kidney education section of this website has some information on chronic kidney disease and this page is meant to supplement that information. Since the problems typically develop over years or decades in diabetes, there are ample opportunities to prevent more serious consequences of diabetes on the kidney. The medical term for this slowly progressive kidney damage due to diabetes is diabetic nephropathy. In fact the condition can be called by many names by the doctors in the context of diabetes and can lead to some confusion. This picture should clear some of it.
Here are a few tips for diabetics to take care of their kidneys :
1. Get tested at least every year for diabetic kidney disease
It is tragic that even today most of the patients with diabetic kidney failure are diagnosed in the last stages. This is because diabetic kidney disease can be without symptoms till even the last stages. Get tested every year to detect the early stages of the illness. Treatments are available to slow the progression of kidney disease if detected in early stages.
2. Keep the sugar level under control
Uncontrolled blood sugars increase the risk of kidney failure substantially. Keeping the blood sugar levels below the levels suggested by your doctor will help to prevent or slow the progression of kidney failure. It has other benefits also for the kidneys. For example good blood sugar control decreases your risk of serious urinary tract infections.
3. Control of blood pressure is important to prevent kidney damage
While sugar control is very important, blood pressure reduction if you are a hypertensive is equally important. The blood pressure target varies from patient to patient but it should be below 140/90 mm Hg for most patients.
4. Give up smoking
Smoking can cause additional damage to the kidneys. Though easy to advise smoking cessation is not easy. There are smoking cessation clinics which provide psychological support and help with the process.
5. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise as per your capacity helps with both sugar and BP control. Brisk walk of 30 minutes on five days a week should be a good schedule that can be easily carried out.
6. Maintain a healthy body weight
Diabetics tend to be obese. Slow weight reduction towards a healthy target utilizing diet, exercise is ideal. Morbidly obese patients may need to visit a dedicated obesity clinic for a more aggressive approach to the problem.
7. Gather correct knowledge about diabetic kidney disease
Knowledge is power only if it is right. There are many unqualified practitioners peddling miracle cures for diabetes and kidney failure. They are not clinically proven and take your attention away from what can actually be achieved. Remember that at the end of the day it is your own body and every decision that you take has long term bearing. Don’t sacrifice long term well being for unproven short term measures.