If you have diabetes, it’s important that you know about the link between diabetes and kidney disease, and what you can do to keep your kidneys healthy.
Why do we have kidneys?
You have two kidneys, each about the size of your fist, located just below the rib cage, near your back. Their main job is to filter wastes and excess water out of your blood to make urine. Your kidneys also help control blood pressure.
What is kidney disease?
Your kidneys filter your blood through many tiny blood vessels within your kidney. If the blood vessels in your kidney are damaged, they become less and less able to do their job. This damage can cause wastes to build up in your body. This is called kidney disease.
What is the link between diabetes and kidney disease?
Kidney disease is most often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure (which many people with diabetes also have). As many as 2 in 3 people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. About 1 in 3 people with diabetes have kidney disease.
When you have diabetes, there is too much sugar (glucose) in your blood. This high blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, so they have trouble filtering waste from your blood. High blood pressure also can damage these blood vessels.
Having diabetes does not mean you will get kidney disease. The better a person with diabetes keeps their blood sugar and blood pressure under control, the lower the chance of getting kidney disease.
Kidney disease usually develops over many years, and has few warning signs in the early stages; so many people with kidney disease don’t know they have it. That’s why it’s important to manage your diabetes and your blood pressure at all times.
Can kidney disease be treated?
Yes. If you have kidney disease, you can stop it from getting worse by taking care of your diabetes and taking any needed medicines.
People with diabetes can lower their chances of having diabetes-related health problems like kidney disease by managing the ABCs of diabetes – A1C, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol.
• A is for the A1C test. It measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months.
• B is for blood pressure. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard.
• C is for cholesterol. Bad cholesterol, or LDL, builds up and clogs your arteries.
Ask your health care team what your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers are; what your ABC numbers should be; and what you can do to reach your ABC goals.
Here are other things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy when you have diabetes:
• Get your blood and urine tested at least once a year to measure how well your kidneys are working.
• Be physically active.
• If you smoke, get help to quit.
• Follow what your doctor says. Your doctor may ask you to see a special doctor to help with your kidney disease. Your doctor may also tell you to eat less salt or less protein.
• Take all medicines that your doctor tells you to take – even when you feel well.
Spread the word about the link between diabetes and kidney disease. There are many things you can do to take care of your kidneys and your overall health when you have diabetes.
Learn more about diabetes by visiting www.lcdhd.org/diabetes/ to see when the next diabetes education class is offered in your county at the local health department or simply call 1-800-928-4416 and ask to speak to the diabetes educator. You may also want to become a friend of LCDHD on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LCDHD or follow us at www.twitter.com/LCDHD .