Today is World Kidney Day - a global initiative to raise awareness of the importance of your kidneys to your overall health, how you can look after yourself and the risk factors for kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease is common and it can go undetected as people often have no symptoms. However, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, a family history and those from certain ethnic groups, have a higher risk.
In fact, nearly one fifth of people with diabetes have kidney disease that requires treatment. As with many of the complications associated with diabetes, kidney disease is caused by damage to small blood vessels. This damage can cause the vessels to become leaky or, in some cases, to stop working, making the kidneys work less efficiently. Kidney disease in diabetes develops very slowly, over many years. It is most common in people who have had diabetes for over 20 years.
There are several easy ways to reduce your risk of developing kidney disease, and some small changes in behaviour can have enormous health benefits:
1. Monitor your blood pressure: It is very important to keep blood pressure controlled (130/80mmHg or less).
2. Monitor your blood glucose: It is also known that keeping blood glucose levels as near normal as possible (usually HbA1c below 48mmol/mol but individual targets may apply) can greatly reduce the risk of kidney disease developing as well as other diabetes complications.
3. Keep fit and active: this helps reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of kidney disease.
4. Don’t smoke: smoking slows blood flow to the kidneys, decreasing their ability to function properly.
5. Eat healthily and keep your weight in check: Eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight can help people significantly reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, or to manage diabetes more effectively. It is also important to reduce your salt intake as eating more salt high blood pressure.
6. Get your kidney function tested: if anyone in your family has suffered from kidney disease, you have diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s important to get your kidney function tested. People with diabetes should receive an annual urine test and blood tests to monitor their kidneys. If you don’t receive a kidney test as part of your annual review, do ask for one. It can help prevent complications like diabetes-related kidney failure.
7. Keep well hydrated: this helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins in the body, which can significantly lower the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
For more information about World Kidney Day, please visit: www.worldkidneyday.co.uk.
For more information about diabetes and kidney disease, and other complications associated with diabetes, visit ourComplications section.