What We’re Reading: National Kidney Month

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The month of March brings many things: daylight saving time, the arrival of spring, and perhaps most significantly for people with diabetes, National Kidney Month.

The kidneys, two fist-sized organs located toward the middle of the back, have several important jobs, including filtering waste products from the blood and removing excess fluid from the body. Unfortunately, having diabetes places a person at risk of developing certain kidney problems. According to Debra Manzella, R.N., at Diabetes, the number one risk factor for developing chronic kidney disease, or the gradual loss of kidney function, is diabetes. (Other risk factors include high blood pressure, a family history of chronic kidney disease, an age older than 60 years, and being an African-American, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic/Latino American.) As noted in a blog entry on dLife Today, roughly 30% of people with long-term Type 1 diabetes will develop end-stage kidney disease.

Having diabetes does not mean that you are destined to develop chronic kidney disease, however: Studies have shown that maintaining tight blood glucose control can significantly reduce the risk of developing this condition. If you are found through regular screenings to already have developed chronic kidney disease, keeping blood pressure under control, possibly with the help of a class of medicines known as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, can help prevent or delay progression of the disease. A low-protein diet may also be recommended in this case to help decrease the kidneys’ workload.

For more information about kidney health, visit the Web site of the National Kidney Foundation or check out the article “Protecting Your Kidneys.”

This blog entry was written by Assistant Editor Diane Fennell.

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