From One Disease to Another: How Diabetes Affects the Kidneys

DIABETES AND YOUR KIDNEYS

The human body is a complex piece of machinery, with interconnected systems and processes. Each one has a critical function, and a disease that throws one system out of equilibrium can affect the other.

One such disease is Diabetes.

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus, more commonly known as diabetes, is a condition caused by your body not producing enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, this disease can also hurt other parts of your body, especially your kidneys.

DIABETES AND YOUR KIDNEYS

So how does diabetes affect the kidneys?

People with diabetes experience injuries in their small blood vessels. This, in turn, will cause your kidneys to fail in cleaning your blood properly.

The result is a buildup of water, salt, protein, and other waste and excess materials in your blood, adding more burden to your kidney’s task.

Not only that, the presence of this disease can cause damage to nerves in your body, particularly the ones controlling your bladder. Emptying your bladder will be difficult to do.

Urine Testing

This puts your kidneys into even greater risk with the pressure buildup and possible infection due to bacterial growth in high-sugar urine.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES-INDUCED KIDNEY DISEASE

First off, not everyone who has diabetes develops kidney disease. However, 30% of patients with Type 1 (also called “juvenile onset”) diabetes and 10-40% of those with Type 2 (also known as “adult onset”) diabetes will eventually experience it.

Some of the signs and symptoms are the following:

  • Presence of albumin or protein in the urine
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling and cramps, especially in the ankles and legs
  • High levels of BUN and creatinine in the blood
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and paleness
  • Anemia
  • Itching
  • Sleep loss
  • Poor appetite
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Always talk to your healthcare professional about symptoms you feel, so that they can schedule the right tests to confirm whether you are developing kidney disease or not.

MANAGING YOUR KIDNEYS

Whether you have already developed kidney disease due to diabetes or not, here are a few things you can do to help yourself manage your condition:

1. Keep your blood glucose within the normal range. Your A1C blood test, which will be scheduled and supervised by your healthcare professional, will show your average blood sugar levels in a span of 3 months. Try to keep it under 7%, or as set by your physician.

Glucose Test
Blood pressure monitoring

2. Take control of your blood pressure. For people with diabetes, the normal range is below 140/90. Ask your health professional about blood pressure medication. Add relaxation activities, like yoga and meditation.

3. Develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle If you’ve been doing these top 10 unhealthy habits, better start changing and improving your lifestyle.

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4. Take your medication as prescribed. Always, ALWAYS follow the treatment plans set by your health care team. Take your medicines on time as you should take them and at the right dosage. DO NOT change your medication plan without consulting your health care team first.

Sources:

Diabetic Kidney Disease – National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-kidney-disease

Kidney Disease (Nephropathy) – American Diabetes Association: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/kidney-disease-nephropathy

Diabetes – A Major Risk Factor for Kidney Disease – National Kidney Foundation: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diabetes