I know a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes gives you a lot to think about. But I want to encourage you to keep your kidneys near the top of your checklist.
Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure in the United States. I work with my patients to help them keep their kidneys as healthy as possible, paying close attention to blood pressure and glucose levels.
Kidneys Play Important Role
Our kidneys are filled with millions of minute blood vessels that filter the blood. They separate waste products, which then flow into the urine, from good things, like red blood cells and protein, which stay in the blood.
But diabetes can throw off this delicate cycle. When blood sugar is high, the kidneys are forced to work too hard. After a while, they begin to leak small amounts of protein into the urine.
If kidney disease is caught early, treatments are available to slow its progress. However, if it is not detected until later stages, end-stage renal disease may develop. This serious condition may require kidney transplant or dialysis, in which a machine filters the blood.
Show Your Kidneys Some Love
I tell my patients with Type 2 diabetes that the two most important things to help prevent kidney disease are to:
- Keep blood pressure low. Options include losing weight, getting exercise, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and taking certain blood pressure medications.
- Keep blood glucose low. It may be necessary to monitor it closely and take insulin.
My patients with Type 2 diabetes visit me several times a year to check:
- Blood pressure
- A1C level, which shows an average of glucose levels
- Urine for protein at least once a year
- Blood for waste products
- Other organs
Do you have Type 2 diabetes and kidney problems? How do you stay healthy?
Dr. Leonardo Espitia is a Family Medicine physician who specializes in chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.