According to the International Society of Nephrology, more than 850 million people across the globe have some form of kidney disease. One of the main reasons for this is thе fact that there are almost no clear symptoms to indicate a problem developing in the body. This “silent killer” is in the top 10 causes of death worldwide as many people seek out help when it’s too late. Тhe only form of treatment is dialysis or transplantation, but many do not receive these treatments due to financial restrictions. Moreover, a kidney transplant is a complicated procedure that can take years to find a compatible donor and still doesn’t guarantee successful results. In moments like this, education on the topic is key – what to look out for, whom to contact and how to prevent it.
The Relationship Between Diabetes and The Kidneys Explained
Unfortunately, people with diabetes have higher chances of developing kidney problems than those without troubled blood sugar. Why? Because high levels of glucose in the bloodstream damage the blood vessels in the kidney, therefore interrupting its function. Not being able to operate to its full capacity, the kidney no longer filters waste and excess fluids from the blood, meaning that high levels of fluid, electrolytes, and waste build up in the body instead of leaving it through urine. Once the kidney is damaged, it cannot be regenerated back to its normal state.
Symptoms of Kidney Malfunction
Each case is different, but depending on how severe the condition is, kidney dysfunction can cause some of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Urinating more or less
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Muscle cramps
In the early stages of problems with the kidneys, it can be very difficult to spot any signs of abnormality. The only secure way to know for certain if your kidneys are healthy is to have them checked by a medical professional.
Medical Checks and Screenings to Consider
One of the most important checks to have regarding your diabetes is your glycated hemoglobin levels (HbA1c). This test inspects the average of your blood sugar levels for the past 3 months and is an important indicator for understanding how much sugar in your bloodstream sticks to the red blood cells. The ideal result is below 7 and it’s recommended to have it done quarterly as disturbed kidney function can have an impact on your HbA1c levels. The other most common tests performed to analyze the kidneys are:
- Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) test which checks the amount of blood that passes through the kidneys each minute and whether it’s been filtered properly or not
- Creatinine blood and urine tests look for the levels of creatinine, which is a waste product that your kidneys filter from your blood
- Albumin urine test is used to check for albumin, a protein that can pass into the urine if the kidneys are damaged
- Ultrasound examination, which allows the health care provider to inspect the shape and size of the kidneys, and check for anything unusual
Recommended Preventative Measures
As the saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure”. Healthy lifestyle choices are the key to preventing problems with kidney functionality as well as any other disease or medical condition. It’s important to note that high blood pressure and family predisposition are risk factors for developing kidney problems. The following guidelines are recommended by the World Health Organization as reducing the risk.
- Keeping blood sugar levels in range
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing salt intake
- Taking prescribed medications according to instructions
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Keeping high blood pressure under control
Complications from chronic kidney disease are severe and affect the whole body. Currently, there are only two options for kidney disease treatment: organ transplantation or hemodialysis – a procedure required 3 times a week for about 4 hours, usually performed in a hospital. The procedure replaces the function of the kidneys by removing blood from the body, filtering it from waste, and returning it back to the organism.
Overall, any type of diabetes affects the body in numerous ways and aspects. However, despite it being a very challenging condition to live with, it certainly is possible to manage every aspect of it while also having a fulfilling life. With annual medical exams, blood sugar levels in range, healthy lifestyle choices, and a positive mindset, one can take control of their diabetes and master its management.
Digital technologies are a great helper in this quest, as they save loads of time and effort. Did you know that the Diabetes:M mobile application allows you to track HbA1c, cholesterol, and blood pressure history for up to 90 days back? Try it out today.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. Always contact your health care provider before taking any measures regarding your health.