The complications of diabetes can lead to a variety of issues, one of which is the possible threat of kidney trouble. If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, or even prediabetes, there are certain steps that you can take to help prevent the onset of kidney disease, aka nephropathy. Nephropathy caused by diabetes is known as diabetic nephropathy.
Diabetes is indeed the leading cause of kidney failure today, and is more prevalent in African Americans, aboriginal Americans, and Latin Americans. Unfortunately, the precise interplay between diabetes and kidney disease is not well known, and there is not yet a cure for diabetic nephropathy. Essentially, it is believed that over years with high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels, your kidneys become damaged, thus preventing them from working properly, or even failing altogether. Luckily, proper management of diabetes can prevent or delay any serious damage to your kidneys.
Your kidneys help to filter your blood, excreting waste through your urine. Your kidneys also help to regulate the fluids and salt content in your body, an important factor in controlling your blood pressure. Each of your two kidneys has approximately one million tiny filtration units, called nephrons. And each nephron has a small filter called a glomerulus, which is attached to a tubule. It is through this tubule that waste and water pass through. When breakdown occurs, it is at this point, where the glomeruli work together with the tubules.
As was said above, it is unclear why high blood sugars and high blood pressure should damage your glomeruli, although it is likely related to your kidneys working so much harder to compensate for increased blood pressure. Because high blood sugar levels damage your blood cells, this further stresses your kidneys as the glomeruli are essentially a network of blood cells.
The following are some of the early signs of kidney disease in people with diabetes:
1. Albumin/protein in your urine.
2. High blood pressure.
3. Swelling in your legs, feet or face.
4. Going to the bathroom more frequently.
5. High levels of nitrogen and creatinine in your blood.
6. Less need for diabetic medicines, such as insulin.
7. Nausea and/or vomiting.
If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, you will likely be treated as part of a comprehensive approach to treating your diabetes. Some conventional medical options for treatment include medication such as ACE inhibitors, as well as dialysis, or even kidney transplant.
Here are some key ideas on preventing kidney disease:
- Strictly control your blood sugar levels by eating properly, and monitoring your levels within the target range specified by your doctor.
- Ensure that your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels are well controlled.
- Avoid NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), e.g. aspirin or ibuprofen, which have been linked to some issues with kidney function.
- Don't smoke cigarettes or consume nicotine in any form.
- Treat urinary tract infections immediately with antibiotics.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks and alcohol.
- Avoid medical tests that may damage your kidneys, including x-rays that require the injection of contrast dyes.
- Take your prescribed medications and get regular tests to determine the health of your kidneys.
- Get regular exercise.
- Follow a healthy meal plan.
Furthermore, getting regular acupuncture can help you to balance your hormonal levels, your blood sugar levels, and your blood pressure as well. Acupuncture does not interfere with medication, and so is completely safe to administer alongside your other treatments. Ensure that whoever is treating you with acupuncture is well trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine, so that you will be diagnosed properly.
For more information, and to obtain your own free TCM diagnosis, contact us.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner
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