Diabetes, Your Kidneys and You

Before going any further, let me make it clear that it is perfectly possible for someone with diabetes to avoid long-term convocations associated with this disease. This is achieved by working with your medical team and making some minor adjustments to your lifestyle, most notably exercise and diet, along with the regular monitoring of your blood glucose levels.

Long-term complications arising from diabetes generally take around 10 years to materialise, however one needs to be mindful that the subtle signs of diabetes are often missed and that by the time a patient is diagnosed as having diabetes, the condition may have been in existence for a number of years already. It is a fact that around 30% of people who have diabetes are unaware that they actually have it.

Your kidneys are basically filters, filtering the blood and removing waste products in the urine. In simple terms, without kidney function you die. You can therefore see how important the kidneys are, and how important it is to look after them.

Kidney disease affects roughly 30% of people with type II diabetes, and more than a third of people who have to undergo regular dialysis treatment are diabetic. The chances of getting some form of kidney disease are the same for people with type I and type II diabetes.
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Unfortunately high blood pressure can also damage your kidneys, and high blood pressure is fairly common in diabetics. However, controlling one’s blood pressure and one’s diabetes significantly improves one’s chances of avoiding kidney disease.

It is possible to avoid diabetic kidney disease, firstly by controlling your blood sugar levels. On its own, this can delay the onset of kidney disease, or slow it down if it is already present.

Secondly, blood pressure has a certain role to play. Controlling one’s blood pressure in this instance often requires the use of drugs but the first step is to adopt a low salt diet. It has been shown that kidneys deteriorate less quickly by proper blood pressure control.

Thirdly, by using a class of drugs called statins bad cholesterol is lowered and the good cholesterol is increased. Triglycerides which are also damaging fat, are also controlled in this way.

Lastly, it can be a good idea to limit the amount of protein in one’s diet. There is some argument as to the benefits of this, especially when you consider that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet can be effective both in weight loss and the lowering of blood sugar levels. Given that most diabetics are obese weight loss is an important factor in controlling the disease.

The ultimate cure for kidney disease is a kidney transplant. However in the case of the diabetic the drugs used to counter rejection of donor organs can work against the treatment of diabetes. In addition donors are in very short supply.
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