The steps to prevent diabetic kidney disease are the same as the steps to keep it from getting worse. You will need to:
- Control your blood sugar
- Control your blood pressure
- Control your cholesterol
- Follow a diabetic diet
- Do not smoke or use tobacco
- Exercise most days of the week
- Keep a healthy weight
Controlling your blood sugar
Keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range can help protect your kidneys. A special diabetic diet, exercise and medicines can help you keep a healthy blood sugar level. You will need to check your blood sugar often to know how you’re doing.
When you have doctor appointments, you will probably have a blood test to check your hemoglobin A1C. This is a blood test that tells your doctor how your blood sugar has been doing over the last 2 or 3 months. Ask your doctor what your A1C result should be. Most people with diabetes should have an A1C less than 7 percent.
To check your blood sugar at home, you will use a blood glucose meter (also called a glucometer). You can get a meter at your local drug store, hospital, clinic or online. Your doctor can help you find a meter that is right for you. Most insurance policies will help pay for your testing supplies.
Your doctor can show you how to use your meter. Ask your doctor how often to check your blood sugar and what your blood sugar level should be.
In most cases, your blood sugar level should be:
- Between 70 and 130 BEFORE eating;
- Less than 183 about 2 hours AFTER eating;
- Between 90 and 150 at bedtime.
Print this chart to track your blood sugar levels.
Tell your doctor if your blood sugar is often too high or too low. If your blood sugar is low, eat a glucose tablet, raisins, hard candy or honey. You can also drink fruit juice, milk or a sugary drink. Check your blood sugar again after 15 minutes to make sure it is getting higher.
Tell your doctor if this happens more than once.
Control your blood pressure
High blood pressure is the #2 cause of kidney failure. Having both diabetes and high blood pressure makes it more likely that you will have kidney disease and heart disease.
A healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 (or 120 over 80). Ask your doctor how often you should have your blood pressure checked.
Control your cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance in your blood. Having high cholesterol and diabetes makes it more likely that you will have kidney disease, heart disease or a stroke. High cholesterol can also make your diabetic kidney disease get worse faster.
There are two types of cholesterol you should pay attention to: HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol). For most people, normal cholesterol levels are:
- Total cholesterol: less than 200
- HDL (“good” cholesterol): more than 40
- LDL (“bad” cholesterol): less than 100.
Your triglycerides are also important. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. For most people, a healthy triglyceride level is less than 150.
Talk with your doctor about what your cholesterol and triglycerides levels should be and how you can control them.
Follow a diabetic diet
What you eat and drink affects your blood sugar. Ask your doctor, dietitian or diabetes educator about:
- What to eat
- How much to eat
- How often to eat.
Picking healthy foods, eating smaller meals and eating more often can help you control your diabetes and prevent problems. Medicare and many private insurance policies will help pay for appointments with a dietitian or diabetes educator. Check with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers medical nutrition therapy (MNT).
Do not smoke or use tobacco
Using tobacco (smoking or chewing) can make kidney problems worse. If you use tobacco, quitting can help lower your chance of getting kidney disease or help prevent your kidney disease from getting worse if you already have it.
Exercise most days of the week
Exercise can help your body use insulin better. This makes it easier to keep a healthy blood sugar level. Exercise also helps control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
To get the most benefit, exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. If that seems like too much, start slowly and work your way up. Look for fun activities that you enjoy. Try walking with a friend, dancing, swimming or playing a sport. Adding just a little more activity to your routine can help.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Keep a healthy weight
Keeping a healthy weight can help you control your blood sugar and lower your chances of getting kidney disease. Talk to your doctor about how much you should weigh. If you are overweight, losing just a few pounds can make a big difference.