NYACK, N.Y. -- Diabetes is the number one cause of chronic kidney disease in the United States. Thankfully for those with diabetes though, protecting the kidneys is possible through careful monitoring of blood sugar and blood pressure.
Roughly one in four adults with diabetes has kidney disease, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetic kidney disease, also called diabetic nephropathy, occurs when the filtering apparatus of the kidney -- the glomerulus -- stops working properly. As a result, protein begins to leak through the filter and ends up in the urine. If too many waste products start to build up in the blood, the kidneys fail, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Doctors can perform various tests to check for levels of waste products to see if kidneys are damaged. "In most cases, a person with diabetes has no noticeable symptoms that indicate they have kidney disease, which is why going to the doctor every year to test for kidney disease is so essential," said Dr. Arthur Appel, an internist, nephrologist and member of Highland Medical PC.
"Because high blood sugar levels damage the kidneys, keeping your diabetes under control is vital in preventing kidney disease, or to slow down its progression if you already have it," he said. Carefully monitoring diet, medicine, blood pressure and sugar levels is important.
Doctors also monitor for other kidney conditions such as kidney stones, urinary tract infections and an enlarged prostate, which affects the ability of the bladder to empty properly. Treating these conditions can help preserve your kidney function.
“The good news is that treatment is available to prevent or delay kidney disease from developing in people with diabetes,” said Appel. “Work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control, and take your medicines as prescribed, so you can keep your kidneys functioning.”