Preventing Kidney Disease as a Diabetic

The kidneys are vital organs in the human body. They filter and get rid of waste products in the bloodstream, control blood pressure and stimulate the production of red blood cells.

When certain factors inhibit the ability for the kidneys to perform efficiently, it can lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD currently affects over 20 million Americans and is the leading cause of kidney failure.

Diabetics are at increased risk for developing kidney disease. According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 30 percent of people with type 1 diabetes and 10 to 40 percent of those with type 2 diabetes will eventually suffer from kidney failure.

How Diabetes Affects The Kidneys

Diabetes negatively affects small blood vessels in the body. When these blood vessels in the kidney take damage, the organ can't clean waste out of the body effectively. Diabetes can also cause nerve damage. This can cause urine buildup in the bladder which infects the kidneys.

Early Signs Of Kidney Disease In Patients With Diabetes

The earliest sign of kidney disease for a diabetic is an increased excretion of albumin in urine. Signs of this include weight gain, ankle swelling, high blood pressure and using the bathroom frequently at night.

Late Signs Of Kidney Disease In Patients With Diabetes

Later signs of kidney disease include nausea, vomiting, a loss of appetite, weakness, increasing fatigue and anemia. As a diabetic, you may find that you need less insulin. This is because diseased kidneys make insulin harder to be processed.

Other Warning Signs Of Kidney Disease

It's important for diabetics to be on the lookout for detectable symptoms of CKD in order to prevent the disease from worsening.

Warning signs of kidney disease can be very subtle. Even though it can take years to go from CKD to kidney failure, symptoms can go completely unnoticed:

  • Swelling in the hands, legs, feet or face
  • Skin rash/itching
  • Metallic taste in mouth and uncharacteristic bad breath
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling cold
  • Dizziness and trouble concentrating
  • Pain on the sides, back and legs

How to Protect Your Kidneys

The National Kidney Foundation has released a statement with tips on how people can protect their kidneys:

  • Get tested
  • Reduce over-the-counter medication intake (also known as NSAIDS)
  • Cut down on processed foods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stay well-hydrated

Having diabetes is no easy task but by taking preventative measures and living a healthy lifestyle, the possibility of kidney disease decreases. Always try and maintain blood glucose and blood pressure levels. Speak to your doctor if any complications should arise.

More information on protecting kidney health can be found here.

Sources: KidneyInfo, WMDT and NKF

Photo credit: HeyPaulStudios on Flickr

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