Diabetes can affect many parts of your body, including your kidneys.
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located near the spine at the small of the back. They perform several important functions. One important function is to clean the blood by removing harmful waste products. The kidneys also remove water and electrolytes. Together, the harmful waste products, water, and electrolytes make urine.
Having high levels of sugar in the blood can damage the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the kidneys. Having high levels of sugar can also harm the kidneys' cells. This makes your kidneys have to work harder. When this happens, the waste products that the kidneys usually filter out start to build up in the blood. This is called kidney failure. Sometimes, the kidneys will even stop working if the sugar level has been too high for a long time. This is called end-stage kidney disease. With end-stage kidney disease, most, if not all, of the waste products, water, and electrolytes normally removed as urine stay in the blood. Without treatment, this can lead to life-threatening problems or even loss of life.
There are some things that you can do to help prevent or slow down kidney damage. First, you should keep your blood sugar at the best level possible. Research has shown up to a 50 percent decrease in both the development and progression of kidney disease in people whose blood sugar was well controlled. You should also see your healthcare provider for regular checkups. During this time, make sure to ask how much protein you should be eating. High-protein diets can be harmful to the kidneys in people with diabetes. Your healthcare provider may also recommend certain types of blood pressure medicine that can help protect your kidneys. Finally, your healthcare provider should check your urine at least once a year. This test will see how well your kidneys are working and if there is any damage.
Doing these five things will help you and your kidneys stay healthy.