Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy In Diabetes
Numbers suggest that one of every third person who has had diabetes for about 15 years is likely to develop kidney disease. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease in Canada. Just like other complications associated with diabetes, early stages of kidney damage have a few symptoms and can go unnoticed.
It is really important that if you have diabetes, you get regular kidney scans to know about your kidney function. In order to avoid kidney disease arising from diabetes, let us first understand the danger that high blood sugar brings upon your kidneys.
Over the years that your blood has high sugar content or glucose, the blood vessels inside the kidneys can become thinner and even clogged. The lack of blood supply causes a protein (albuminuria) release in urine that helps detect kidney damage.
Apart from damaged blood vessels, damage to nerves caused by diabetes can also cut the communication between the brain and the bladder. The compromised communication doesn’t let you know when your bladder is full, causing pressure on the kidneys which can cause damage.
Holding urine also opens doors for urinary tract infection as bacteria grows rapidly in urine that has a high sugar level. Even though these infections mostly affect the bladder, they can also spread to the kidneys.
Taking care of your kidneys right from the moment you’re diagnosed with diabetes and taking preventive measures can not only help you slow down the damage but also save you from kidney failure.
Here are a few tips to take care of your kidneys in diabetes:
- Early diagnosis can help: Get a urine test at least once a year to check for signs of kidney damage. Amounts of protein called albuminuria in the urine can help people with diabetes by showing kidney damage at an early stage. The sooner you treat the complications, the better it is for your kidney as well as overall health
- Control your blood sugar: You can prevent slow kidney damage or any other complications arising from diabetes if you keep a strict check on your blood sugar levels. Follow a nutritious diet, exercise regularly and check with your doctor if you need medication for hypoglycemia (high blood sugar).
- Take care of your heart: Set targets for your blood pressure and eat a heart-healthy diet to keep your cholesterol levels down. A healthy heart can reduce the chances of kidney failure.
- Protect your kidney function: Research suggests that taking medicines such as ACE inhibitors or ARBs which are generally prescribed to patients with high blood pressure can slow damage to kidney function even if you don’t have high blood pressure.
- Watch your protein intake: People who have diabetes and kidney disease should limit their protein intake to the required quantities only. According to research and healthcare professionals, eating less protein can slow down damage to the kidneys. Make sure you talk to your dietician or someone who specialises in kidney function before including this in your meal plan.
- Check for UTIs: If you see any signs of a urinary infection such as irritation or burning sensation while peeing, a strong odor or a cloudy or bloody urine, consult your doctor immediately. It is important to detect UTIs at early stages for better treatment and faster cure. Prolonged infections can affect the kidneys.
- Drugs or herbal treatments: A certain type of drugs such as NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) or over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can cause harm to your kidneys. This is also true for a lot of herbal supplements so make sure you consult before using.
- Stay fit: Maintaining overall fitness and health when you have diabetes including abstaining from smoking, eating a healthy diet and regular physical activity can protect your kidneys from the effects of diabetes.
- See a nephrologist: A kidney doctor can help you plan your treatment along with your dietician to keep your kidneys healthy for longer. They may even recommend following a renal diabetic diet along with ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker to help protect your kidneys.
As soon as you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to educate yourself about the ways it can affect your other body parts. Following strict diabetes care not just means taking medication and regular blood glucose tests, it demands commitment to keep a check on organs that are prone to diseases and infections such as your kidneys, heart, eyes or feet.
You can prevent chronic kidney disease in diabetes only when it is detected early. Make sure you follow these caring tips and read up more on ways to keep your kidneys healthier to avoid an advanced kidney disease and need for a transplant.