Diabetes and your kidney health

Male senior checking blood sugar.

Did you know?

Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney health problems.*

Your kidneys have many tiny blood vessels that filter waste from your blood. High blood sugar from diabetes can destroy these blood vessels. Over time, your kidneys can’t do their job or may even fail altogether.

What is the main treatment?

The main treatment is medicine to lower your blood pressure and prevent or slow the damage to your kidneys. These medicines include:

  • ACE inhibitors: Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
  • ARBs: Angiotensin II receptor blockers.**

As damage to the kidneys gets worse, your blood pressure rises. Your cholesterol and triglyceride levels rise too. You may need to take more than one medicine to treat these complications. Your doctor will monitor and provide guidance for you.

Act now to protect your kidneys’ health

In addition to talking with your doctor about an annual kidney health test, some other steps you can take are:

  • Keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. This can help slow the damage to the small blood vessels in the kidneys.
  • Work with your doctor to keep your blood pressure under control. Your doctor will give you a goal for your blood pressure. Your goal will be based on your health and your age. An example of a goal is to keep your blood pressure below 140/90.
  • Keep your heart healthy by eating healthy foods and regularly exercising. Preventing heart disease is important, because people with diabetes are more likely to have heart and blood vessel diseases. And people with kidney disease are at an even higher risk for heart disease.
  • Watch how much protein you eat. Eating too much is hard on your kidneys. If diabetes has affected your kidneys, limiting how much protein you eat may help you preserve kidney function. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how much protein is best for you.
  • Watch how much salt you eat. Eating less salt helps keep high blood pressure from getting worse.
  • Don't smoke or use other tobacco products.

Prevention is the best way to go

Your doctor can monitor your kidney function and the protein amounts in your urine to identify and treat any problems early. You’ll know about your kidney health and get treated early if your doctor finds a problem. This may lessen your chances of more health problems down the road.

*https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/kidney-disease-of-diabetes/Pages/facts.aspx

**https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/high-blood-pressure-and-kidney-disease/Pages/facts.aspx#howcan