Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease in the United States, accounting for at least 40% of new cases of kidney failure. It is estimated that between 5% and 15% of people with Type 2 diabetes, and between 25% and 40% of people with Type 1 diabetes, will someday develop diabetic nephropathy. This gradual loss of kidney function can lead to kidney failure, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant. People with diabetes should be screened every year for nephropathy with a microalbuminuria test, which measures protein in the urine. Nephropathy usually has no symptoms at first and is most easily treated in its early stages. Blood glucose and blood pressure control are essential to preventing and slowing its progression.
Although managing kidney disease can be a challenge, especially when combined with diabetes management, there are many sources of help and information that can lead to improved health and quality of life. The following resources may be helpful to people dealing with any stage of kidney disease, and to those looking to prevent kidney complications.
The AAKP is a membership organization that exists to serve all kidney patients and their families. Its Web site features extensive information on kidney disease, dialysis, and transplantation. A section called “AAKP My Health” lets users log in and track their medicine use, doctor visits, lab results, and other information.
The organization also sponsors several live events, including an annual convention, a series of free educational one-hour conference calls called AAKP HealthLine, and a free educational program called Kidney Beginnings: Live, which is held annually in cities around the country for people new to kidney disease and those who would like to learn more.
The AAKP publishes two magazines: aakpRENALIFE, of which a subscription is a membership benefit, and Kidney Beginnings: The Magazine, which is aimed at people new to kidney disease and is offered for free. Visitors to the AAKP Web site can also subscribe for free to, and read past editions of, Kidney Beginnings: The Electronic Newsletter.
The AKF provides grants, financial assistance, and other services to eligible people with kidney disease. Information about AKF programs can be found on the Web site under the “Patients” tab, by calling the organization, or through a social worker at a dialysis center. Forms of assistance range from helping with dialysis-related transportation costs to paying the expenses of a kidney donor.
The AKF Web site also has a helpful set of FAQ’s about treating kidney disease, as well as information on various kidney disorders.
NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION
The NKF seeks to help prevent and treat kidney and urinary tract diseases by supporting research, fostering the continuing education of health-care professionals, advocating on behalf of patients, and educating the public. The organization offers free kidney health screenings, helps organize Kidney Walks to raise both money and awareness, and promotes World Kidney Day and the U.S. Transplant Games. The NKF Web site has information on numerous aspects of kidney disease, its treatment, and its prevention.