How to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy

The arrival of March is a sign that spring is on its way! March also happens to be National Kidney Month[1]. That may not sound all that exciting, but your kidneys need some TLC, especially if you have diabetes. These two bean-shaped organs, which are about the size of your fist, sit below your rib cage on either side of your spine, and they deserve special attention.

Yes, the kidneys make urine, but they do so much more than that. For example, the kidneys remove waste and extra fluid from the body. They also remove acids made by cells, and keep a safe balance of water, salts and minerals (including sodium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium[2]) in the blood. And, they make blood cells and various hormones that control blood pressure[3], and keep bones healthy[4]. If your kidneys don’t work, numerous health problems can occur.

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Fast facts about diabetes and kidney problems

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Diabetes and kidney problems: know the risks

One of the most common complications[10] of having diabetes is kidney disease. Blood sugars that are high[11] over a long period of time can damage the millions of tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, which prevent the kidneys from working well.

People with diabetes are also more likely to have high blood pressure; high blood pressure, in turn, raises the risk of kidney disease. Other risk factors for kidney disease if you have diabetes include:

Symptoms of kidney disease

In the early stages of kidney disease, there are usually no symptoms. The only way to know is to get your kidneys checked. Over time, however, certain symptoms will appear if kidney damage progresses. Symptoms may appear when at least 75% of your kidney function is lost. These include:

Learn more about keeping your kidneys healthy in our free download, “Diabetes + Your Kidneys.”[16]

Ways to keep your kidneys healthy

No one wants to have kidney disease, and prevention is the goal. And you can prevent kidney disease! If you already have kidney disease, you can slow the progression. Here’s how:

Get tested.

Meet blood sugar[19] and A1C goals[20].

Control your blood pressure.

Stop smoking.[27]

Eat healthy.

Be active.

Stay hydrated.[35]

Go easy with NSAIDs.

Find healthy ways to manage stress.[38]

Want to learn more about keeping your kidneys healthy with diabetes? Read “Protecting Your Kidneys,”[40] “Kidney Disease: Your Seven-Step Plan for Prevention”[41] and “Ten Things to Know About Kidney Disease.”[42]

Endnotes:
  1. National Kidney Month: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/community-health-outreach/national-kidney-month
  2. potassium: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/the-power-of-potassium/
  3. blood pressure: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/seven-little-known-steps-for-lowering-your-blood-pressure/
  4. bones healthy: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/boost-bone-health/
  5. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/prevention-risk/make-the-connection.html
  6. ninth leading cause of death: https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/basics.html#:~:text=Kidney%20diseases%20are%20the%20ninth,dialysis%20treatment%20for%20kidney%20failure.
  7. one in three adults with diabetes has chronic kidney disease.: https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/prevention-risk/make-the-connection.html#:~:text=Kidney%20Facts&text=Approximately%201%20of%203%20adults,begin%20treatment%20for%20kidney%20failure.
  8. prediabetes: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/stopping-prediabetes-tracks/
  9. sign up for our free newsletter: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/newsletter/
  10. complications: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/education/diabetes-complications/
  11. Blood sugars that are high: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/blood-glucose-management/managing-hyperglycemia/
  12. heart disease: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/complications-prevention/lower-risk-heart-disease/
  13. diabetic retinopathy: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/complications-prevention/eating-for-better-vision-and-healthy-eyes/diabetic-retinopathy/
  14. diabetic neuropathy: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/complications-prevention/diabetic-neuropathy/
  15. Smoking: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/quitting-smoking-diabetes/
  16. Learn more about keeping your kidneys healthy in our free download, “Diabetes + Your Kidneys.”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/10-things-to-know-about-kidney-disease/
  17. type 2 diabetes: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/diabetes-resources/definitions/type-2-diabetes/
  18. type 1 diabetes: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/diabetes-resources/definitions/type-1-diabetes/
  19. blood sugar: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/blood-glucose-management/blood-sugar-chart/
  20. A1C goals: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/lowering-a1c-levels-naturally/
  21. eating healthy: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/nutrition-exercise/meal-planning/top-tips-for-healthier-eating/
  22. SGLT2 inhibitors: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/diabetes-medicine-sglt2-inhibitors/
  23. GLP-1 agonists: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/non-insulin-injectable-diabetes-medications/
  24. CGM (continuous glucose monitor): https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/blood-glucose-management/cgm-diabetes-management/
  25. usually less than 140/90 mmHg: https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/44/Supplement_1/S125
  26. ACE inhibitors: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/diabetes-resources/definitions/ace-inhibitors/
  27. Stop smoking.: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/quitting-smoking-diabetes/
  28. cholesterol levels: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/complications-prevention/natural-ways-to-lower-your-cholesterol/
  29. herbs and spices: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/nutrition-exercise/meal-planning/cooking-with-herbs-and-spices/
  30. DASH eating plan: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan
  31. physical activity: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/nutrition-exercise/exercise/picking-the-right-activity-to-meet-your-fitness-goals/
  32. walking: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/nutrition-exercise/exercise/health-benefits-of-walking/
  33. dancing: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/nutrition-exercise/exercise/the-health-benefits-of-dance/
  34. Learn more about deskercises here.: https://www.developgoodhabits.com/deskercise-habit/
  35. Stay hydrated.: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/best-beverages-staying-hydrated/
  36. According to the National Kidney Foundation: https://www.kidney.org/news/take-five-for-your-kidneys
  37. has determined: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256#:~:text=The%20U.S.%20National%20Academies%20of,fluids%20a%20day%20for%20women
  38. Find healthy ways to manage stress.: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/emotional-health/relaxation-techniques-for-stressful-times/
  39. depression: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/dealing-diabetes-depression/
  40. “Protecting Your Kidneys,”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/complications-prevention/protecting-your-kidneys/
  41. “Kidney Disease: Your Seven-Step Plan for Prevention”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/kidney-disease-seven-step-plan-prevention/
  42. “Ten Things to Know About Kidney Disease.”: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/ten-things-know-kidney-disease/

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