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How can kidney problems caused by diabetes affect my daily life?

Insulin and certain medications used by people with diabetes are cleared by the kidneys. If you have diabetes and chronic kidney disease, check with your doctor to see if any dosing changes need to be made based on your level of kidney function.

Because diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease, it's important that those with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. Blood sugar control typically involves a combination of diet, physical activity and medication.

Serious kidney problems can bring many changes in your day-to-day life: how you feel, what you do every day, and how you take care of your diabetes.

  • Your schedule: If you choose hemodialysis, you'll be at the dialysis center three times a week for 3 to 5 hours at a time. While you're attached to the dialysis machine, you can read, sleep, or work. If you've chosen peritoneal dialysis, done at home, you'll still be on a schedule but you'll be able to move about and do your usual activities during the dialysis process. Some people do peritoneal dialysis overnight, while they're sleeping.
  • Your food and beverages: It's likely that your meal plan will change, depending on what type of dialysis you've selected. Because waste products can build up in the blood between dialysis sessions, you'll need a special diet to stay healthy. A dietitian will help you make a meal plan that provides optimal amounts of minerals (such as phosphorus, potassium, and sodium), fluids, and protein, based on your needs. If you're planning to get a transplant, you'll have different dietary needs.
  • Your physical activity: You can still benefit from physical activity, even with serious kidney problems. However, you'll want to talk with your health care team about what activities are best for you and when to do them.
  • Your diabetes care: Serious kidney disease can lead to changes in how you manage your diabetes. Because of changes in your blood, the results of your A1C may not be reliable.

If you take insulin by injection, you may be at risk for low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). This can happen because part of insulin is broken down by the kidney. If your kidneys aren't working, the way your body processes insulin can become unpredictable. This can also happen with certain diabetes pills. Your health care team can advise you on how to avoid low blood glucose by adjusting your dosage of diabetes medication.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.