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Take Charge of Your Diabetes

Image of a diagram of kidneys.
Take care of your kidneys by keeping your blood glucose and blood pressure in balance.

Diabetes can cause diabetic kidney disease (also called diabetic nephropathy), which can lead to kidney failure. There’s a lot you can do to take charge and prevent kidney problems. A recent study shows that controlling your blood glucose can prevent or delay the onset of kidney disease. Keeping your blood pressure under control is also important.

The kidneys keep the right amount of water in the body and help filter out harmful wastes. These wastes, called urea, then pass from the body in the urine. Diabetes can cause kidney disease by damaging the parts of the kidneys that filter out wastes. When the kidneys fail, a person has to have his or her blood filtered through a machine (a treatment called dialysis) several times a week or has to get a kidney transplant.

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Testing Your Kidneys

Image of a health care professional speaking with a patient.
Work with your health care provider to prevent or treat kidney problems.


Your health care provider can learn how well your kidneys are working by testing for microalbumin (a protein) in the urine. Microalbumin in the urine is an early sign of diabetic kidney disease. You should have your urine checked for microalbumin every year.

Your health care provider can also do a yearly blood test to measure your kidney function. If the tests show microalbumin in the urine or if your kidney function isn’t normal, you’ll need to be checked more often.

On the records page, write down the dates and the results of these tests. Ask your health care provider to explain what the results mean.


Image of a man connected to a dialysis machine.
Controlling your blood glucose levels and your blood pressure may help to preven or delay kidney failure.

Protecting Your Kidneys

Keep Your Blood Glucose Under Control

High blood glucose can damage your kidneys as time goes by. Work with your health care team to keep your glucose levels as close to normal as you can.

Keep Your Blood Pressure In Balance

High blood pressure (or hypertension) can damage your kidneys. You may want to check your blood pressure at home to be sure it stays lower than 130/80. Have your health care provider check your blood pressure at least 4 times a year. Your doctor may have you take a blood pressure pill, called an ACE inhibitor, to help protect your kidneys.

To Lower Your Blood Pressure:

  1. Practice these steps:
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Be active every day.
    • Eat fewer foods high in salt and sodium.
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and lowfat dairy products.
  2. Take your medicine the way your doctor tells you.
  3. Have your blood pressure checked often.

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these signs of kidney infections:

  • Back pain.
  • Chills.
  • Fever.
  • Ketones in the urine.

Image of a health care professional speaking with a patient.
Tell your health care provider if you have
any signs of kidney or bladder infection.

Your health care provider will test your urine. If you have a bladder or kidney infection, you’ll be given medicine to stop the infection. After you take all the medicine, have your urine checked again to be sure the infection is gone.

Know the Effects of Some Medicines and X-Ray Dyes

If you have kidney disease, ask your health care provider about the possible effects that some medicines and X-ray dyes can have on your kidneys.

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