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Diabetic Kidney Disease


Kidney Care

Diabetic kidney disease is extremely common among both Type 1 diabetics and Type 2 diabetics. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, a condition also known as nephropathy, (nuh-frop-uh-thee) which affects almost 200,000 Americans each year.

This means that 20% to 40% of people with Type 1 diabetes will develop kidney failure, usually before the  age of 50. Kidney failure generally occurs 15 to 25 years after a person has been diagnosed with diabetes if he or she is going to have it. If you are one of these people, you are not alone. There are also treatments available that can help you stay active and healthy.


How Kidneys Work

Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys stop functioning properly. Because the kidneys are  the primary means of filtering toxins from the body, kidney failure means that the body has an increase in the level of toxicity.

In particular, the kidneys filter out a blood protein called albumin (al-byoo-muhn) and Creatinine (kree-at-n-een, -in). When the kidneys begin to fail, the kidneys stop processing these proteins properly and they leak into the urine. Kidney function continues to degenerate and the body retains waste that it cannot filter properly. As such, the level of toxins rises, as does the body's blood pressure.

Think of your kidneys as a sponge that absorbs toxic chemicals from your bloodstream. If the sponge stops absorbing toxic chemicals, then they will stay in the bloodstream and remain dangerously toxic.          
 

Tests for Kidney Health
A sensitive blood test for protein or albumin in the urine involves laboratory measurement and calculation of the protein-to-creatinine or albumin-to-creatinine ratio. Creatinine is a waste productin the blood created by the normal breakdown of muscle cells during activity. Healthy kidneys take creatinine out of the blood and put it into the urine to leave the body. When the kidneys are not working well, creatinine builds up in the blood.

Treatment

The treatment for kidney failure is limited and involves either dialysis (dahy-al-uh-sis) or a kidney transplant. Dialysis is a treatment that involves sending a patient's blood through a filtration machine in order to mechanically remove the toxins from the machine. Most patients requiring dialysis must have the procedure performed daily or several times a week.

High blood pressure has also been found to be a huge contributing factor to kidney failure. Therefore, lowering blood pressure can help to reduce the toll on the kidneys. Many diabetic patients will take blood pressure medicine in addition to increasing their levels of physical activity and maintaining a nutritious diet.

Many diabetics are also warned about the dangers of high-protein diets. It can be difficult for the kidneys to filter excess protein; therefore, many doctors recommend that diabetics consume a normal level of protein, but do not adhere to high-protein diets. In fact, reducing the amount of protein in the diet may even help to delay the onset of kidney failure. If you are considering reducing your protein in-take, consult your physician first.

Additionally, doctors recommend that diabetics facing kidney failure maintain low-sugar meal plans in order to reduce their blood glucose levels. Diabetics should also continue their normal medications, such as insulin injections or pills, in order to keep their blood glucose levels as normal as possible. By following a very strict, low-glucose diet, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) found that diabetics can reduce the risk of developing or worsening kidney failure.

Know Your Blood Pressure to Control It!

Get Regular Check-UpsBlood Pressure Monitor

Staying knowledgeable about your body's functions is the key to staying healthy. In order to reduce your risk of developing kidney failure or to delay the severity of the condition, it is a good idea to have regular check-ups. 

Here are some more tips to help you stay on top of your condition:

  • Have your A1C level measured at least twice a year.
  • Keep your A1C level at 7% or less.
  • Consult with your doctor about the best treatment for you including:
    • meal plans
    • medication
    • exercise
    • blood glucose monitoring
  • Have your urine checked once a year.
  • Have an annual blood check.
  • Pay close attention to your nutrition, including how much protein you eat.
Your kidneys are essential organs that help to filter waste from your body and form urine. Diabetics sometimes face kidney failure due to prolonged wear and tear on the organs. When a diabetic has kidney failure, he or she has a number of treatment options, including a kidney transplant or lifelong dialysis.

The goal of all treatment is to help filter toxins from your body by removing excess fluid, minerals, and other wastes. Kidneys also help to keep the hormones regulated throughout your body so that your body can function properly. When the kidneys fail, often, blood pressure will rise, your body may swell as you retain excess fluid, and you may not make enough red blood cells to stay healthy. Once the kidneys have failed, you will need to decide on a course of treatment.

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The three possible treatments you can choose from include: 

Hemodialysis (hee-moh-dahy-al-uh-sis), Peritoneal Dialysis (per-i-tn-ee-ahl dahy-al-uh-sis), and kidney transplantation.

Hemodialysis (hee-moh-dahy-al-uh-sis)

Hemodialysis filters your blood through a machine in an effort to rid your body of waste, excess salt and excess water. The machine serves as an artificial kidney for the duration of time that you are hooked up to it. The machine pulls your blood through tubes connecting to your body (usually at the forearm) and into the dialyzer. The machine then filters the waste and water from the blood and directs the flow of blood back into your body

A major benefit of Hemodialysis is that it helps to regular your blood pressure and keep the proper levels of vitamins and nutrients in your body, including potassium, sodium, calcium, and bicarbonate. Generally, the procedure is performed three times a week and can last from three to five hours.


Peritoneal Dialysis (per-i-tn-ee-ahl dahy-al-uh-sis)  is similar to Hemodialysis in that it helps to filter waste, water, and other chemicals from your body. However, peritoneal dialysis interfaces directly with the lining of your abdomen in order to filter your blood. The lining is called the peritoneal membrane and will serve as your artificial kidney when your other kidneys fail.

In order for your abdomen to become your temporary artificial kidney, the abdomen needs to be filled with a dialysis solution, which is a mixture of minerals and sugar that is dissolved in water. The solution is input into your abdomen by means of a flexible tube. Once in your abdomen, the sugar will draw wastes, chemicals, and excess water directly from the blood vessels in your peritoneal membrane and into the dialysis solution.

The solution will stay in your abdomen for several hours before it is drained through the tube. When the solution is drained, it will take the wastes from your blood with it. 

Click here for more information about peritoneal dialysis.


Kidney TransplantationA kidney transplant is a process by which a kidney (or both) is removed from the body and replaced with another person's kidney. In most cases, the donated kidney will work in the same way that you failed kidney once worked, as long as the body accepts the new kidney.

When you receive a kidney transplant, a surgeon will connect the new kidney to the artery and vein that will interface with your blood stream and bladder. The old kidneys are generally left in place. In some cases, the new kidney will start filtering blood and making urine right away. In other cases, it can take weeks for the new kidney to start functioning properly. If you receive any organ transplant, you will have to take medications for the rest of your life in order to ensure that your body continues to accept the new organ. 

Exercise to Reduce Your Blood Sugar Levels


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