Diabetic Kidney Disease- How to Deal With Nephropathy

For people over the age of 40 years, diabetes has become pretty common. Thanks to modern medications, living with them has become easier than before. But diabetes when left untreated can lead to numerous other health conditions including nephropathy. Research suggests that one-third of diabetes patients develop kidney disease, referred to as diabetic kidney disease.

Diabetic kidney disease occurs when inadequately managed blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in your kidneys. It can also lead to high blood pressure, which further causes damage to your kidneys by increasing the pressure in the filtering system of the kidneys (called glomeruli).

How To Prevent Kidney Disease When You Have Diabetes

You can talk to your doctor about how to prevent kidney disease when you have diabetes. In general, some of the following tips will be advantageous for you to prevent diabetic kidney disease:

Maintain your blood glucose levels in the optimal range

Your healthcare provider may recommend checking your blood sugar levels after meals and exercising. Your doctor will also let you know how frequently to check your blood glucose level to monitor whether your insulin is working. They can also advise you to get a regular A1C test, which specifies your average blood glucose level over the last three months. 

The A1C test is known to be one of the best tests to check if your blood glucose levels are controlled. A high A1C number indicates that your blood glucose levels have been high during the last three months, which can be a serious problem for your kidneys.

Keep your blood pressure levels under control

Blood pressure is something that indicates the force of your blood against the walls of the blood vessels. Having high blood pressure means that your heart is making extra efforts to pump blood throughout the body, leading to kidney disease.

If you have high blood pressure and are wondering how to prevent kidney disease effectively, try to maintain your BP below 140/90 mmHg. High systolic pressure is a significant risk factor for developing kidney disease. 

Pay great attention to your diet

Paying attention to diet is the only sure way to protect kidney health in people with diabetes. Having foods with a low glycemic index is crucial. You should consult your dietician and get a structural meal plan created to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Eat those foods that are low in salt. Avoid adding much salt to your meals to manage your high blood pressure as this can cause damage to sensitive glomeruli in the kidneys. 

Your doctor may advise you to have a low-protein, low-fat diet as having excessive animal protein could easily lead to kidney stones. When you have diabetes, your urine may already be very acidic, elevating your risk of developing kidney stones. 

By having plenty of fluids each day, you can successfully prevent kidney stones. Make sure you drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

Prevent stress from getting you down

Managing diabetes isn’t easy. When you are living with diabetes, feeling sad, stressed, and helpless is pretty common. Since chronic stress can raise your blood pressure and blood glucose both, you need to work with your doctor to find the best ways to de-stress. Some common activities that are considered beneficial in mitigating stress include yoga, meditation, deep breathing, walking, gardening, listening to music, etc. 

Get tests to rule out diabetic nephropathy

The symptoms of diabetic kidney disease are extremely non-specific. That’s the reason why people are advised to go to their doctors regularly to get the following tests done and detect kidney disease early. 

  • Blood tests such as estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) to check how well your kidneys can filter the blood.
  • Urine tests to monitor the levels of protein, albumin, and creatinine. 

Increased levels often indicate kidney damage. As a diabetes patient, you need to get your urine tested each year.

  • Regular blood pressure monitoring because high blood pressure can be a sign of kidney problems

Ditch smoking

Nicotine in cigarettes can harm cardiovascular and renal health, especially for people with diabetes. Studies have found that smoking is a significant risk factor for developing kidney disease. If you smoke, find the best way to quit as soon as possible to prevent kidney disease. 

Avoid alcohol

When you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, the secretion of a hormone that keeps your kidneys from producing excessive urine is distressed. This means you will urinate more, which can leave your body dehydrated. Chronic alcoholism can hence wear down your kidneys as they have to work a lot harder to produce more urine all the time.

Try losing some weight if you are overweight

Make exercise a part of your routine and lose excess weight as this would make you more sensitive to insulin and also prevent kidney damage. Maintaining a healthy weight is vital, too, as obesity is linked with kidney disease. 

Most people with diabetes are already overweight or obese. As their weight increases, they become highly insensitive to insulin, which increases their chances of developing diabetic nephropathy.

Make sure you take all your prescribed medications regularly

Medications are an essential part of your diabetes treatment plan. Your doctor will recommend insulin and other medications based on your specific health requirements. 

Order medicines for treating Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Metformin(Bigomet SR), Linagliptin(Trajenta), or Sitagliptin(Januvia).

You may also be suggested to take blood pressure-lowering drugs such as ACE inhibitors and ARBs. These drugs also help decelerate kidney damage. Both play a significant role in safeguarding your kidneys, particularly if you are a diabetic with diabetic kidney disease and high blood pressure. To prevent any additional damage to your kidneys, then kindly stick to your treatment plan appropriately.

Also Read: Know 7 Natural Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Conclusion

Kidney failure is a devastating condition that can worsen health conditions for people with diabetes. If you are thinking about how to prevent kidney disease, the tips listed above will be significantly helpful. Make sure to consult your doctor before making any changes in your current treatment plan.

Sources:

https://www.phablecare.com/blog/prevent-diabetes-kidney-disease/

https://www.medlife.com/blog/7-ways-prevent-kidney-disease-diabetic-patients/

https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-health/how-to-prevent-kidney-failure#11-tips

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Julain Carter is mental health expert for Goodrxmedicine.com. He is an experienced clinical mental health counsellor with recognition in cognitive behavioural therapy. Julian’s sharp behavioural observations reflect in both his personal and professional life.