Why Diabetes Patients Should Watch Their Kidneys

November is National Diabetes Month

By Matthew G. Chaffin, M.D

Q. Please discuss the relationship between diabetes and kidney disease?

Dr. Chaffin: Diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease. For people aged 65 and older, one in four has diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions and it is very common for diabetics to develop kidney disease.

Q. How does diabetes affect the kidneys?

A. In diabetes, the small blood vessels in the kidneys can be injured so that the kidneys cannot clean your blood properly. When this happens, your body starts to retain water and salt, protein leaks into your urine and develops waste materials that build up in your body.

Q. Are diabetics with kidney disease at greater risk for infections?

A. Diabetics are at higher risk for all infections, and developing kidney failure increases that risk. That is why it is so important to manage your diabetes and kidney disease.

Q. What are the early signs of kidney disease in diabetes?

A. We see patients who have an increase of albumin in their urine based on lab testing, weight gain and swelling in the ankles, and an increase in frequency to urinate at night.

Q. What is the best way people can take care of themselves if they are diabetic and have kidney disease?

A. Diabetics should manage blood sugar, avoid smoking, maintain a healthy body weight, manage stress and get adequate sleep and physical exercise. It is important to keep a current medications list with dose and frequency, and get a flu shot.

Q. What other recommendations can you share?

A. People who have specific medication questions should ask their physician. Generally, diabetics with kidney disease should at least avoid taking ibuprofen. We encourage everyone in our community to take an active role in managing your health.

Photo: Matthew G. Chaffin, M.D, sees patients at Nephrology Associates of Syracuse and specializes in internal medicine and nephrology. He is affiliated with Crouse Hospital and St Joseph’s Hospital Health Center. To contact him or for more information, call 315-478-3311 or visit www.nephrologysyracuse.com.