Nephropathy or kidney disease is intrinsically linked with diabetes. Almost a third of diabetics or one out of four adults with diabetes develop diabetic kidney disease or nephropathy.
In India, the results of a 2017 study published in the journal ‘Diabetes Care’ flagged the prevalence of diabetic kidney disease or DKD in urban Indians as 2.2 percent.
Diabetic kidney disease occurs when poorly controlled blood-sugar damages the blood vessels in your kidneys that cleans your blood. This also leads to high blood pressure, and high BP further damages your kidneys by increasing the pressure in the delicate filtering system of the kidneys called the glomeruli.
Tips to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy If You Have Diabetes Mellitus
Type 2 diabetics are more likely to already have kidney disease by the time they are diagnosed with diabetes. This is called partial kidney function.
Here are some of the best ways to prevent or slow diabetic nephropathy and take care of your kidney health:
1. Maintain Your Blood Glucose Levels in the Optimum Range
Your doctor will advise you to monitor your sugar levels after meals, exercising, and also how often you should track your blood glucose level to test whether your insulin is working. She will also advise you to get a regular A1C test. This is a blood test that shows your average blood glucose level over the past three months. The A1C is also one of the best tests to see if your blood sugar levels are controlled. A high A1C number shows that your blood glucose levels have been high during the past three months, which can be a problem for your kidneys.
Ask your healthcare practitioner what your A1C test score should be and maintain your blood sugar levels within range to protect your kidney health. Most type 2 diabetes patients are advised to keep their A1C below seven percent. Ask your doctor how much your score should be. Remember, reaching your A1C goal numbers will help you protect your kidneys.
2. Keep Your Blood Pressure Within the Safe Zone
What we call blood pressure is essentially a number to show the force of your blood against the walls of the blood vessels. If you have high blood pressure, remember, it means that your heart is working too hard. This can cause kidney disease.
As a diabetic, you need to maintain your BP below 140/90 mm Hg. High systolic pressure is a greater risk factor for diabetic nephropathy.
3. Improve your diet
The only foolproof way to preserve kidney health if you are diabetic is to watch your diet like a hawk. Having a low glycemic index diet is critical. We suggest you consult a dietitian about developing a structured meal plan for keeping your blood sugar levels stable.
Eat foods low in salt. Don’t add salt to meals to manage high blood pressure, as this can damage the sensitive glomeruli in the kidneys.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations of eating a low-fat, low-protein diet as having too much animal protein can easily lead to kidney stones. As a diabetic, your urine may already be too acidic, increasing your chances of getting kidney stones. By drinking lots of fluids every day, you can effectively prevent the formation of kidney stones. Maintain at least eight glasses of water intake a day.
4. Take All Your Prescribed Medicines Regularly
Medicines are an important part of your diabetes mellitus treatment plan. Your doctor will prescribe insulin and other medicines based on your specific needs. You may also be prescribed BP lowering medicines like ACE inhibitors and ARBs. These medicines also help slow kidney damage. Both play a special role in protecting your kidneys, especially if you are a diabetic with DKD and high blood pressure.
5. Address your stress
Managing diabetes mellitus isn’t always easy. Feeling stressed, sad, or helpless is fairly common when you are living with diabetes. Since long-term stress can raise your blood glucose and blood pressure both, you can learn ways to de-stress. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, gardening, taking a walk, listening to your favorite music, are all helpful examples of activities that can reduce stress.
6. Get Regular Tests to Rule Out Diabetic Nephropathy
DKD symptoms are extremely non-specific. That’s why it’s that you visit your doctor regularly to schedule these tests for detecting kidney disease early:
-Urine tests to check levels of protein, creatinine, and albumin. Elevated levels usually mean kidney damage. As a diabetic, you should get your urine tested every year.
– Regular blood pressure monitoring, as hypertension can be a sign of kidney problems
–Blood tests like the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) to see how well your kidneys can filter your blood.
7. Lose Weight If You’re Overweight
Make exercise a part of your routine and lose weight as this will make you more sensitive to insulin and also prevent kidney damage. Maintaining a healthy weight is critical, too, as obesity is linked with kidney disease. Most type 2 diabetics are already overweight. As their weight increases, they become more insulin insensitive, and this escalates their chances of diabetic nephropathy.
8. Avoid Alcohol
When you binge on alcohol, the secretion of a hormone that keeps your kidneys from making too much urine is disturbed. This means you urinate more, which can lead to dehydration. Chronic alcoholism can thus wear your kidneys down as they have to work harder to produce more urine all the time.
9. Reduce or quit smoking
Nicotine can harm renal and cardiovascular health, especially for diabetes patients. According to a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Medical Science, smoking is an established risk factor for developing kidney disease.
10. Stay Away From These Drugs
Taking non-prescription pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can lead to kidney damage. These drugs cause severe damage by reducing the blood flow to the kidneys. The rule of the thumb is to talk to your doctor about all of the medicines you take, including over-the-counter ones.
Kidney failure is a debilitating condition that can exacerbate health conditions for diabetics. Follow the tips given above to avoid getting kidney disease and always consult your doctor before making any changes in your prescribed treatment plan.
As a diabetes patient, you are constantly fielding multiple balls in the air. The risk of kidney disease can be an added stress-point. Phable is a digital platform that directly connects patients with doctors to help in personalizing treatments for better outcomes. From prescriptions to appointments, the app covers all your healthcare needs and makes it easy for patients to manage diabetic nephropathy.
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