November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and at Durham Nephrology, we want to take time to focus on preventing the damage that diabetes can have on the kidneys. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease, with one in every four diabetic adults developing kidney disease in their lifetime. The chances of developing diabetic kidney disease, also known as DKD, increases with those who have had diabetes for a long time, as well as those who are overweight, smoke, have heart disease, or who eat a high-sodium diet in addition to being diabetic. In order to help manage diabetic kidney disease, we created a list of tips to help keep your kidneys healthy, and to help prevent kidney damage.
1. Prioritize a healthy lifestyle
Living a healthy lifestyle is a baseline recommendation no matter who you are, but for those living with diabetic kidney disease, maintaining healthy habits is crucial. Making a conscious effort to remain as healthy as possible helps diabetic kidney disease in more ways than one. Habits such as eating a low sodium diet, staying active, and sleeping for at least seven hours per night not only help to keep your kidneys in good shape, but can also help reach your blood glucose goals and lower high blood pressure. It’s also important to avoid smoking in order to help prevent future kidney damage.
2. Monitor your blood pressure
Complications associated with high blood pressure kill close to 500,000 Americans each year, and the unnerving part is that many people with high blood pressure don’t even know that they have it. While it’s a good idea to regularly check your blood pressure read, this is especially important for those with diabetic kidney disease. Since the normally-functioning kidneys help control blood pressure, those with DKD need to work with their doctor to set a blood pressure goal, and to monitor your blood pressure closely. In many cases, medications such as ARBs and ACE inhibitors can help slow kidney damage in those who have diabetic kidney disease.
3. Stay on track with your blood glucose goals
If you have diabetes, you are probably familiar with your A1C. This blood test shows your glucose levels over the last three months, and is different from the blood glucose tests that you administer yourself. Many people with diabetes have a A1C goal of below 7% in order to protect their kidneys. Reaching your goal will take work with a healthcare professional to discuss meal plans, medication, and physical activity in order to ensure you have a low A1C number.
4. Control stress
Long term stress is a contributing factor in raising both your blood glucose levels and your blood pressure, so finding a way to decrease your stress will help manage your diabetic kidney disease. Practice activities that focus on deep breathing, such as yoga or meditation, or just engage in hobbies that make you happy and decrease your stress levels.
Many people with diabetic kidney disease do not experience symptoms, so it’s important that you get tested for kidney disease once a year if you have type 2 diabetes, or have had type 1 diabetes for over five years.
If you have questions about diabetic kidney disease or ways you can help manage it, call us at 919-477-3005 to talk to a staff member and make an appointment. The team at Durham Nephrology is dedicated to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to the people of the Durham, NC area.