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Kidney disease and diabetes - find out more on World Kidney Day 2009

Did you know that nearly one fifth of people with diabetes get serious kidney disease?

Today is World Kidney Day - a global initiative to raise awareness of the importance of encouraging the public to maintain good kidney health.

Kidney disease is on the increase.

In many cases poor dietary and lifestyle habits are responsible.

About kidney disease

What is kidney disease?

The kidneys are the organs that filter and clean the blood and get rid of any waste products by making urine. They regulate the amount of fluid and various salts in the body, helping to control blood pressure. They also release several hormones.

Kidney disease (or nephropathy to give it its proper name) is when the kidneys start to fail.

What happens if I have kidney disease?

If the kidneys start to fail they cannot carry out their jobs so well. In the early stages of kidney disease this can mean there are changes in blood pressure and in the fluid balance of the body. This can lead to swelling, especially in the feet and ankles.

As kidney disease progresses, the kidneys become less and less efficient and the person can become very ill. This generally happens as a result of the build up of waste products in the blood, which the body cannot get rid of. Kidney disease can be a very serious condition, which is why it is very important to detect it at its earliest stage.

Why are people with diabetes more at risk?

As with many of the other complications of 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.

It is now known that keeping blood glucose levels as near normal as possible (between 4 and 6 mmol/l before meals, and less than 10 mmol/l two hours after food) can greatly reduce the risk of kidney disease developing as well as other diabetes complications. It is also very important to keep blood pressure controlled (130/80mmHg or less).

Kidney disease and diabetes

Kidney disease can happen to anyone but it is much more common in people with diabetes and people with high blood pressure.

Kidney disease in diabetes develops very slowly, over many years. It is most common in people who have had the condition for over 20 years.

About one in three people with diabetes might go on to develop kidney disease, although, as treatments improve, fewer people are affected.

Find out more

For a guide on how to keep your kidneys healthy, available in English, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati and Vietnamese, visit theWorld Kidney Day website.

For more information about diabetes and kidney disease, and other complications associated with diabetes, visit our Complications section.

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