“It has been estimated that more than 20 million American adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD,)” with Diabetes being one of the leading causes. (1)
We at Grassroots Health are passionate about raising awareness of chronic diseases that affect Americans. That being said, we will dedicate weekly material over the next two months for highlighting many types of common kidney diseases and their health risks. Today we begin our series by discussing one of the main causes of kidney disorders: Diabetes.
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs who find their home in the lower back just below the ribcage. These organs are responsible for filtering close to “200 quarts of blood each day, generating about 2 quarts of excess fluid, salts, and waste products that are excreted as urine.” (1) Figuratively speaking, the kidneys resemble a trash-removal service for the body. In a scenario where their function shuts down or even slows, waste begins to build up. If this occurs, it has the potential of becoming a life-threatening situation.
The Effect of Diabetes
Over the course of this chronic disease, diabetes is responsible for damaging small blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. It directly affects the kidneys in both of these areas.
Damage to Blood Vessels
“When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, your kidneys cannot clean your blood properly. Your body will retain more water and salt than it should, which can result in weight gain and ankle swelling,” in addition to waste materials that build up in the bloodstream. (2)
When nerve damage ensues from diabetes it “can cause difficulty in emptying your bladder. The pressure resulting from your full bladder can back up and injure the kidneys. Also, if urine remains in your bladder for a long time, you can develop an infection from the rapid growth of bacteria in urine that has a high sugar level.” (2)
The Inevitable Health Risks
The National Kidney Foundation estimates that “About 30 percent of patients with Type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes and 10 to 40 percent of those with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes eventually will suffer from kidney failure.” (2) That being said, because the body cannot survive without kidneys that function, diabetes is not a disease to be considered lightly.
If you have been diagnosed with a type of diabetes, we strongly encourage that you follow up with a medical provider as often as they request, so that you can be monitored by a professional for any signs of damage to your kidneys. Some of the signs and symptoms of kidney disease for diabetics to be on the lookout for include (2):
Albumin/protein in the urine
High blood pressure
Ankle and leg swelling, leg cramps
Going to the bathroom more often at night
High levels of BUN and creatinine in blood
Less need for insulin or antidiabetic medications
Morning sickness, nausea and vomiting
Weakness, paleness and anemia
Affordable Healthcare Solutions
Your medical provider can test for kidney disease by measuring kidney function with certain blood tests and urine tests. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or any form of kidney disease we recommend that you follow up with your physician as often as they request so that they can monitor your conditions and work to prevent a life-threatening situation from occurring. If you are uninsured or have health insurance that you cannot afford, there are still some affordable healthcare options available.
Grassroots Labs is a company that we partner with in the mission of creating healthcare options that are affordable, convenient and efficient for everyone. On their website GrassrootsLabs.io, they have created an online laboratory test store where individuals can browse a large variety of lab tests that are significantly discounted from the traditional mark-up rates that you find at hospitals and doctors offices. Included in their store is an affordable lab test panel for kidney function and an affordable lab test panel for diabetes. Their online store also features affordable panels and individual lab tests used for diagnosing and managing other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and liver disease. These are just a few examples of the many tests they provide for managing chronic diseases and for meeting a wide variety of healthcare needs. For a full biography of Grassroots Labs click here.
We cannot stress enough the importance of regularly monitoring overall health; which is why we strive to make this possible by finding innovative solutions to healthcare, such as telemedicine, that make it more affordable for people to access. In addition, by partnering with like-minded companies such as Grassroots Labs we are able to bridge the gaps between healthcare services by making them valuable to everyone. Stay tuned, next week we will continue in this series by discussing how high blood pressure can cause kidney disease.