Diabetes and kidneys are like dough and doughnuts — one complements the other. With about 40% of people suffering from diabetes having chronic kidney disease, it is easy to say that diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney failure.
If you have diabetes or its symptoms, it would only be wise to go the extra mile to learn more about diabetes and how to keep your kidneys safe.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a situation where our body no longer produces insulin the way it should, and as a result, the glucose in our blood becomes too high and dangerous.
Insulin is an essential hormone and a chemical produced by our body to convert sugar from the food we eat into energy. If the conversion process (from sugar to energy) is not the way it is meant to be, there would be too much sugar stuck in the blood.
There are two major types of diabetes, namely, type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as an autoimmune disease (a type of disease where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells). In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the cell in the pancreas (an organ in the abdomen) responsible for producing insulin. As a result, there is a shortage of insulin in the body.
This type of diabetes cannot be prevented. It can only be managed by regularly taking insulin shots to avoid excess sugar concentration in the blood.
Type 2 diabetes
Unlike type 1 diabetes where insulin is not produced at all, the body actually produces insulin in Type 2 diabetes, but the process of converting glucose into energy is altered. The body is resistant to insulin, resulting in an individual not having a normal glucose level.
Although type 2 diabetes is mostly hereditary and commonly found in adults, that doesn’t mean that children can’t get affected by it.
How Does Diabetes Cause Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease caused by diabetes is referred to as diabetic kidney disease or diabetic nephropathy. This is a situation where excess sugar in the blood damages the kidney.
Here, the kidney is filled with glomeruli — tiny blood vessels that help to clean the body. So when there is excess sugar in the body, it affects the glomeruli.
This is a severe problem because once you have too much sugar in your body (diabetes) and it’s not treated early enough, it disturbs the glomeruli from functioning properly, which in most cases results in permanent kidney damage.
The only way to find out if your kidney is affected is to get tested.
How Often Should the Kidney be Tested?
Usually, there’s no way people with diabetes can easily determine the level of damage done to their kidney until it is fully damaged, because diabetes and kidney disease symptoms are salient and can be sometimes difficult to detect. However, you can check out these valuable tips for preventing kidney disease caused by diabetes or keep it from getting worse (if it is already detected).
- Ensure your blood pressure is regulated
- Keep your blood sugar controlled
- Keep your cholesterol in check
- Eat only healthy foods
- Avoid the use of tobacco and quit smoking completely
- Don’t use drugs
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid getting overweight
- Avoid self-medication
So if you already have diabetes, have your kidneys regularly tested — at least once a year.
Are there any new treatments that can help you?
A few years ago, the answer would have been no. However, in recent times, studies show that ACE inhibitors (a type of high blood pressure medication) can help delay the progression rate of diabetic kidney disease and, in some cases, stop the progression entirely.
ACE inhibitors help reduce blood pressure, and this may lower the pressure within the glomerulus. This medication has not been proven to be 100% effective, so the best option for you is to speak with a doctor to see if it is good for you.
Diabetes and kidney disease are dangerous to one’s health. The combination of both illnesses could be even worse considering the grave symptoms they cause.
So, if you already have diabetes, getting tested for kidney disease is the next best thing. After taking a test, if you find out that you are at risk of having kidney disease, make sure you lower your blood pressure and keep your blood sugar controlled. These measures will help you slow down the progression of the kidney damage.
Remember, diabetic patients are about 40% more likely to contact kidney disease, so if you have diabetes, take extra measures to keep your kidneys safe.
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