Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Issues
You might not think much about your kidneys. But they play a critically important role in your overall health. With one-in-three people in the US at risk for developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) monitoring your kidney function is all the more important.1
What do our kidneys do?
Kidneys act as a filter for the bloodstream, enabling waste products to be removed from the body. They move waste products and extra fluids out of the blood and into the urine, which is then excreted.
When kidney function is disrupted it can have serious consequences—ultimately it can be life-threatening. As the kidneys fail toxic waste builds up in the body. In addition to the kidneys themselves, this can cause other organs to fail, including the heart and lungs.
When kidney function is significantly reduced or fails, hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis are used to remove waste from the bloodstream. This complex medical procedure must be performed every few days on an ongoing basis. Ultimately, a kidney transplant may be needed to reestablish kidney function in the body.
Signs of kidney problems with diabetes
It’s estimated that 37 million US adults have chronic kidney disease and approximately 90% of them don’t know they have it!2
Early signs of kidney issues can be easy to miss. They can be as non-specific as feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up, losing your appetite, having hiccups, or gaining weight from fluid retention. These are the kinds of symptoms that can be easily dismissed and blamed on “something I ate” or “feeling stressed out.” But they’re worth paying attention to.
If you experience these kinds of symptoms keep track of them. Look to see if they are persistent or reoccur. If they become a regular thing, bring it up with your doctor and talk about them as part of your kidney health, not just as a nuisance.
As kidney issues progress the urine may change. The body might produce less urine or the urine might turn a dark color. Urination might become painful. And there might be swelling in the legs, arms, abdomen, or face.3 If you experience any of these kinds of symptoms talk with your doctor immediately about your kidney health.
Annual lab tests monitor kidney function
Kidney function is most accurately monitored with a lab test. There are several kinds of tests that check kidney function. Most common are urine or blood tests. Others require imaging or biopsy procedures.4
Among the most commonly administered kidney function tests are the ACR (albumin-to-creatinine ratio) and GFR (glomerular filtration rate) tests. The ACR measures if a protein called albumin, is present in the urine. The GFR detects and measures the presence of creatinine, a waste product of muscle wear and tear, in the blood.5
It’s a good idea to include an annual blood or urine test to check kidney function in your normal check-up routine. Talk with your doctor if this isn’t already part of your normal care routine.
Managing the risk of chronic kidney disease with diabetes
Diabetes puts you at higher risk of developing kidney issues, including chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. Kidney health is directly tied to diabetes. Chronically high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys which, in turn, disrupts the kidney’s ability to act as a filter.
But there is hope. It may be possible to avoid developing kidney issues by actively managing your blood glucose levels. And, if caught early on, the progression of kidney problems can possibly be delayed or stopped through managing blood glucose, blood pressure, and diet. All of these actions support healthy kidney function.
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