What can I do to prevent kidney damage from diabetes from getting worse?

Dr. Caitlin E. Carter, MD

Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney disease and kidney failure in the United States.

Typically, diabetes takes many years to cause kidney damage. If you have decreased kidney function or protein in your urine (microalbuminuria) from diabetes, consider these important steps to prevent worsening your kidney function.

Even small improvements can lower your risk of progressive kidney disease. These steps include:

  • Achieve good blood pressure control. Taking an ace inhibitor or an angiotensin-receptor-blocking medication can help lower blood pressure. It also has specific effects on the kidney that protect the kidney from damage caused by diabetes. If you have kidney disease, it is important to control your blood pressure. The target for each person may vary but generally is less than 140/90.
  • Stop smoking if you smoke. It increases risk for renal function deterioration, including diabetic nephropathy.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Control your diabetes with a goal hemoglobin A1C less than 7 percent with diet and medications.
  • Control you cholesterol with diet and medications if necessary.
  • Limit your dietary sodium intake to less than 2,000 mg per day. This helps to lower your blood pressure and helps your medication work more effectively.
  • Follow up with your nephrologist (kidney specialist) routinely to make sure you are doing everything you can to prevent kidney disease from worsening.

If you have diabetes, it may be possible to prevent or delay the progression of kidney disease. It is important to control your blood sugar by following your diabetic diet and taking all your prescribed medication. Additionally, since high blood pressure is one of the major reasons diabetics will develop kidney disease, it is important to control blood pressure and take prescribed blood pressure medications.

Your doctor may also recommend that you follow a low-protein diet, which reduces the amount of work your kidneys have to do.

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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.