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

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.

Download the print version: Take Care of Your Kidneys [PDF – 281 KB]

What Happens If You Have Kidney Damage?

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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:

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  • 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?

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  • 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.

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