Kidneys serve the function of getting rid of waste products in the body. When the kidneys are damaged, they can stop functioning adequately to remove toxins from the body, and the result is kidney disease. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for kidney disease. In fact, around 30 percent of people who have Type 1 diabetes and up to 40 percent of those with Type 2 diabetes will develop kidney failure.
How Does Diabetes Harm the Kidneys?
Understanding how diabetes harms the kidneys requires first knowing how the kidneys work to filter blood. There are thousands of tiny blood vessels, called capillaries, in the kidneys. The capillaries have small holes in them that work like filters. They allow waste products to pass through, but keep large particles, like the protein and red blood cells the body needs, in.
When a person has diabetes, high blood sugar levels force the kidneys to filter more blood than normal. This excess work puts excess strain on the filtering system and causes it to leak over time. This means that protein moves through the tiny holes and passes out of the body in the urine. If left untreated, the leaking gets worse and the person suffers kidney failure.
What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?
When kidney disease first starts, there may be no noticeable signs. It may only be detectable by testing for albumin (a kind of protein) in the urine. The National Kidney Foundation recommends that diabetics be tested for albumin in the urine yearly.
Some early signs that may eventually appear are:
- Swollen ankles.
- Weight gain due to fluid retention.
- Increased urination during the night.
- High blood pressure.
Symptoms of advanced kidney disease are:
- Increased blood urea nitrogen levels.
- Increased creatinine in the blood.
- Muscle cramps.
How is Kidney Disease Treated?
Kidney disease that is caught early can be treated through controlling blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Keeping these things under control will reduce the rate at which kidney disease progresses. Eating a low-protein diet may also help. The doctor might prescribe medications such as ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure. Kidney failure is treated using dialysis or a kidney transplant.
If your aging family member has diabetes and is suffering from kidney disease, hiring a senior care professional to provide in-home care can help. A senior care professional can remind your parent to take prescribed medications and follow the diet recommended by the doctor. In cases where an older adult is receiving kidney dialysis, a senior care professional can be an enormous help to family caregivers by driving the person to their dialysis appointments.
If you or someone you know needs help with senior care in Ada, MI, contact Gauthier Family Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services in our community. Call us at (616) 258-2300 for more information.
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