The Connection Between Diabetes and Kidneys

Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD), responsible for 44% of CKD cases. Diabetes—especially type 2—is also the number one cause of kidney failure in the US. If you're living with diabetic kidney disease, it's extremely important to stay in control of and care for both your diabetes and kidneys so you can be your healthiest.
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Fast facts about diabetes

health impact of diabetes and kidneys
  • Diabetes is a condition in which the body either doesn't make enough insulin or isn't able to use it effectively—making it hard to maintain healthy blood sugar (glucose) levels.
  • People living with diabetes must make diet modifications and take medication to keep glucose levels in control.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to other health problems beyond CKD, including eye disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, nerve disease, foot health issues and amputations.

How dialysis may affect diabetes

dialysis and diabetics
Depending on which type of dialysis you're on for diabetic kidney disease, your treatment may or may not affect your diabetes directly.
  
  • If you’re on hemodialysis (HD)—your dialysis treatment will not affect your blood sugar levels. If you see changes in blood sugar on hemodialysis days, it's likely because you are changing your routine or what you eat and drink on those days. Talk to your nurse or doctor if you have questions about your nutrition or maintaining control of your diabetes.

  • If you’re on peritoneal dialysis (PD)—your blood sugar is directly impacted by your treatment, because your PD dialysate may contain a sugar called dextrose. The dextrose in your PD solution helps remove excess fluid from your blood but it also raises your blood sugar. Plus, different strengths of dialysate have different amounts of dextrose. To compensate for the effects of peritoneal dialysis, you may need to increase your insulin dose. Your nurse or doctor will teach you how to make adjustments as necessary.

Tips for controlling diabetes

control blood sugar and diabetes
It’s essential that you follow your doctor’s exact instructions for managing diabetes. Everyone's health is different, and only your doctor or nurse can determine what’s right for you. In general, there are certain steps that should be part of your daily routine to control blood sugar:
  • Test and track your blood sugar levels.
  • Take your medications as prescribed.
  • Eat according to your nutrition plan—limit alcohol, don’t skip meals and use a sugar substitute.
  • Check the condition of your feet.
  • Take good care of your eyes and mouth.
  • Stay active and maintain a healthy weight.

Questions about diabetic kidney disease? Ask your doctor or nurse.

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT DIABETES & CKD

Your doctor is your best source of information for diabetics and kidney failure. He or she can assess your diet and medications to design a care plan that helps you feel your best.
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