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How Having Diabetes Can Affect Your Kidneys

The kidneys are vital organs responsible for waste management, which is crucial for maintaining your body's chemical balance and blood pressure. If you don't take good care of your kidneys, you're risking a slew of health problems, some of which could cause these organs to shut down altogether. Some of the most common kidney-linked diseases are kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and hypertension.

How does diabetes affect the kidneys?

Kidney disease and diabetes go hand in hand — in fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, and the high blood sugar levels that go along with diabetes require the kidneys to work harder to filter out excess water and wastes.

Diabetic nephropathy is a serious kidney-related complication of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. It is also called diabetic kidney disease. Did you know that about 10 to 40 percent of people with diabetes will develop chronic kidney disease (CKD)? Early on, kidney disease with diabetes has no known symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, in later stages of kidney disease, the signs and symptoms include:

  • Appetite loss

  • Confusion of difficulty concentrating

  • Fatigue

  • High blood pressure

  • Increased urge to urinate

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Persistent itching

  • Protein in the urine

  • Swelling (edema) of feet, ankles, hands or eyes

What protects the kidneys with diabetes? The best way to prevent or delay diabetic kidney disease is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and treating your diabetes and high blood pressure. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Be more active. It's important to exercise daily and be physically active to manage your blood pressure and keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

  • Check your blood glucose regularly. Talk to your doctor and diabetes nurse educator about a healthy blood sugar range and try to keep your levels within this goal.

  • Get screened early for kidney disease. If kidney damage is found early, it can be slowed down or managed. Talk to your doctor and learn lifestyle steps you can take to have healthy kidneys.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes reduces blood flow to your kidneys, causing a decrease in function. Smoking cigarettes also increases blood sugar levels, which worsens kidney function.

At Miami Kidney group our goal is to maintain your kidneys healthy. In the United States the most common cause of renal disease is from having many years of diabetes and or hypertension. It is imperative to have good control of the diabetes and hypertension to help slow down the progression of your renal disease. We work together with your primary care doctor to help achieve better control of these factors. Monitoring the blood pressure and the blood sugar levels at home is the first step for better health.

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