How High Blood Sugar Affects Your Kidneys

By KrisTina | Articles

Sep 05

Our kidneys are truly remarkable organs. There are millions of tiny blood vessels inside them which take the role of natural filters. In other words, kidneys are tasked with the important job of removing waste products from our blood.

Unfortunately, sometimes this magnificent filtering system can break down. This can be due to many different factors. Today we are going to be concentrating on diabetes as one possible factor. This disease can cause damage to one’s kidneys and cause them to fail in their work.

That means they fail in filtering out all the toxins, while eventually results in kidney disease.

How Exactly Are Diabetes and Kidney Disease Related?

Once the body digests the protein we consume, it leads to the creation of waste products. In the kidneys, as we mentioned, there are millions of capillaries (tiny blood vessels) which have even tinier holes in them. They act as our body’s filters.

And, as our blood flows through these capillaries, small molecules (such as the waste products) squeeze through these holes. They then become a part of our urine.

On the other hand, the useful substances (such as the red blood cells and protein) are simply too big to pass through those tiny holes, so they remain in our blood, as they should.

When one has diabetes, this system can be damaged. Overly high blood sugar levels make one’s kidneys filter way too much blood. And of course, all this extra work is strenuous for our natural filters. So, after a long process of several years, they may start to leak.

Which means, we are losing useful protein through our urine. Microalbuminuria is the official name when it comes to our urine containing small amounts of protein. This usually represents an early sign of kidney disease.

And when the disease is diagnosed during this stage, several treatments can help to prevent it from getting any worse. Macroalbuninuria, on the other hand, is one’s urine containing large amounts of protein.

And when kidney disease is diagnosed during this stage, what follows is usually ESRD (end-stage renal disease).

Over time, all the added stress of extra works makes our kidneys fail in their filtering abilities. The result is a buildup of waste products in one’s blood. And finally, ESRD, or kidney failure, which is a very serious matter indeed.

A person with such a disease either needs to have a dialysis (have the blood filtered by a machine) or have a kidney transplant.

Who is In Danger?

Not everyone who is diagnosed with diabetes will also develop kidney disease. There are certain factors which play a part, such as blood pressure, blood sugar control, and genetics.

So, in other words, the better you keep your blood glucose levels and diabetes under control, the less your chances of getting kidney disease.

What Are the Symptoms?

The bad news is that there are practically no warning signs until almost all of the function is gone. This is because one’s kidneys work very hard to make up for the failing blood vessels. Furthermore, these symptoms are anything but specific.

Still, usually, the first symptom would be a build-up of fluids. Some other possible symptoms may include: poor appetite, loss of sleep, feeling weak, having difficulties concentrating, and an upset stomach.

This is why it’s so important to see your doctor on a regular basis. Doctors can test your urine for protein, your blood for waste products, your blood pressure, and any other complications which may arise due to diabetes.

How to Prevent It?

Kidney disease caused by diabetes can be hindered in its tracks thanks to keeping one’s blood glucose levels in their target range. In facts, a large number of research has served to prove that a tight control over those levels can reduce one’s risk of microalbuminuria by as much as 1/3!

As for those who already have microalbuminuria, their progression risk to macroalbuminuria was cut in half! Some other studies claim proper control of blood glucose levels can even reverse microalbuminuria completely!

Possible Treatments

Self-Care

Like we mentioned many times by now, two of the most important methods for treating kidney disease are proper control of one’s blood glucose and blood pressure. D

id you know your blood pressure can have a dramatic effect on the rate of progression of this disease?

As a matter of fact, even just a slight rise in your blood pressure could worsen kidney disease. Here are five effective ways for you to lower your blood pressure:

  • Less salt consumption
  • Weight-loss
  • Less-alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Regular exercising

Drugs

Should the methods mentioned above fail, you may need to result to certain medicines for lowering your blood pressure. There are number of such drugs on the market, but not all of them are meant for those with diabetes.

Some can mask the symptoms of low blood glucose or even raise one’s blood glucose levels. That’s why most doctors would prefer that people with diabetes take special blood pressure-lowering drugs named ACE inhibitors.

These medications are recommended especially for diabetics, as well as those with kidney disease and high blood pressure.

Some studies recently conducted suggest that such drugs (among which enalapril and captopril) can slow the progression of kidney disease, all while lowering the patient’s blood pressure.

In fact, such drugs have proven useful even for individuals who do not happen to have high blood pressure.

Diet

Some doctors use another method for their patients who have macroalbuminuria:  a diet low in protein. This is because protein has been shown to increase the hard labor of one’s kidneys.

That’s why a diet low in protein is ideal for this situation, as it can decrease the loss of protein in one’s urine.

It can even increase the protein levels in one’s blood. As great as this sounds, one should not start a low-protein diet without consulting with their doctor or professional healthcare team.

Conclusion

We sincerely hope this information was of some use to you, dear readers. Remember, you should always try to properly maintain not just your blood pressure or blood glucose, but your health in general.

Source: Diabetes | Kidney | NIDDK