Preventing Chronic Kidney Disease, a Diabetes Complication

Chronic kidney disease is one diabetes complication that is easy to ignore.  The body seems to be working fine and all is well.  So most do believe but the truth is what is believed is far from close.  For while people are merrily living their lives, the extra glucose in the blood is doing its dirty job destroying the body and threatening the heart, eyes, nerves and the kidneys.

The good news is people can protect themselves from these invaders.  Researchers are coming closer and closer to within spitting distance of a major breakthrough.  They are making great advancement in understanding what set off the diabetes complications and how to manage and prevent them from happening. 

Perhaps, understanding how chronic kidney disease happens will lead the way for more effort to prevent it.  The kidneys are the body's filter units that work 24/7 getting rid of the toxins and wastes the body makes or brings in.  They are so good at this job that it takes a long time for the symptoms to appear when they become blocked.

Diabetes can damage this filtering system making the tiny blood vessels unable to do their filtering job.  When these are blocked, the impurities stay in the blood and some of the proteins and nutrients are lost in the urine.  That is why the doctor checks the urine to see if valuable protein is lost.

There is good news.  There are steps one can take to prevent this condition.  The most vital thing one can do to prevent chronic kidney disease is to keep the blood sugar under control.  Some studies have shown that people who keep a tight blood glucose control can reduce this particular risk by as much as 35 to 56%.

Another important thing one can do is to keep the blood pressure under control.  High blood pressure can damage the capillaries in the kidneys rendering them unable to do their job.  The two things one can do to keep the blood pressure within normal target is to maintain a healthy weight and to eat less salt.

With an advanced kidney disease and difficulty in lowering the blood pressure, the doctor may prescribe medications.  Some of these may also help in the preservation of the kidneys' function.  Not all diabetics develop chronic kidney disease and it is more common among type 1 diabetics.

What are the signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease?  We know that  the early period produces few symptoms.  They may appear slight like vomiting, weakness, fatigue and sleeplessness and fluid built up.  The following are noticeable after much damage generally has occurred:

  • Hands, ankles and feet are swollen
  • Feeling of confusion and experiencing difficulty in concentrating
  • High blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness and sleeplessness
  • Reduced or poor appetite
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Buildup of fluid
  • Weakness

Let us now go after the treatment of chronic kidney disease.  The treatment will depend on the stage of the condition.  About five years after the diabetes diagnosis or even before this, get the doctor to test for protein in the urine and have this done once a year.  The test should not be just proteinuria but also albuminuria.

During the early stage of chronic kidney disease, the treatment will involve tightening up of glucose level as this will cut the progression of the condition in half.  High blood pressure has to be controlled too and a diet that is low in both salt and protein to reduce the kidneys workload is vital.  The doctor may prescribe medication to lower the blood pressure and slow down the progress of the disease.

For more advanced cases of chronic kidney disease, there's dialysis where the blood is channeled through a machine that removes the toxins from the blood.  There's also kidney transplant, but no one should get to this stage.  Since diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the US and since there are no symptoms to give alert,  it is prudent to get an annual test for kidney problems and take action to prevent this condition.

By Roger Guzman, M.D. and Evelyn Guzman

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