Take Care of Your Kidneys and They Will Take Care of You

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Diabetes can cause kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD). The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent kidney problems, including keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure under control.

What Happens If You Have Kidney Damage?
illustration of 2 kidneys with band-aids on each one

Changes or damage to your kidneys may cause your kidneys to fail. If your kidneys fail, your blood must be filtered (dialysis treatments) several times a week. You may also need to have a kidney transplant.

How Will You Know If You Have Kidney Problems?
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  • Ask your doctor to test your blood and your pee.
  • If the doctor finds protein (albumin) in your pee, it is a sign of the start of kidney disease caused by diabetes.
  • Get tested yearly.
  • Get tested more often if:
    • Your test shows protein in your pee or;
    • Your kidneys are not working as they usually do.
If You Have Diabetes, Take These Steps:
blood sugar test
  • Meet blood sugar targets as often as you can.
  • Get tested for your average level of blood sugar over the past three months (A1C test).
  • Get your A1C test at least twice a year, but ideally up to four times a year.
  • If your blood pressure is high, check it regularly and get it under control to make sure your kidneys stay healthy.
  • Talk to your doctor about medicines that harm your kidneys and other ways to lower your blood pressure.
What is the Best Way to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy?
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  • Keep your blood pressure below 140/90, or ask your doctor what the best blood pressure target is for you.
  • Stay in your target cholesterol range.
  • Eat foods lower in salt.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay active.
  • Take your medications as directed.
Who is More Likely to Develop Kidney Disease?
illustration showing 1 person shaded out of 3 and 1 person shaded out of 5.
  • Approximately 1 of 3 adults with diabetes and 1 of 5 adults with high blood pressure may have CKD.
  • In addition to diabetes and high blood pressure, other problems that put you at greater chance of kidney disease include: heart disease, obesity (being overweight), and a family history of CKD. Kidney infections and a physical injury can also cause kidney disease.
What Can You Do to Prevent Kidney Failure?
  • Get tested for CKD regularly if you are at risk.
  • Find it early. Treat it early.
  • Ask your doctor to test your blood or pee. If you have diabetes, get tested yearly.
  • If you have diabetes, stay in your target blood sugar range as much as possible.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Get active. Physical activity helps control blood sugar levels.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Getting a checkup? Make sure to get your kidneys checked too.
  • Take medications as directed.
  • If you have CKD, meet with a dietitian to make a kidney-healthy eating plan.