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Manage Diabetes

Having diabetes puts you more at risk for kidney disease.  Manage your diabetes to help prevent or slow kidney disease.  You will need to:

Check your blood sugar
Follow a diabetic diet
Keep a healthy blood pressure
Live a healthy lifestyle

Check your blood sugar

High blood sugar can damage the kidneys.  Keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range can help protect your kidneys and prevent or slow diabetic kidney disease.  A special diabetic diet, exercise and medicines can help you keep a healthy blood sugar level.
You will need to check your blood sugar on a regular basis to know how you’re doing.

Checking your blood sugar level at home

Your doctor may suggest that you check your blood sugar at home.  You can do this using 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.

Your meter will come with directions for how to check your blood sugar.  For most meters,

  1. You use a tiny pin (called a lancet) to prick the side of your finger.  This makes a tiny drop of blood.
  2. You put the tiny drop of blood on a test strip that comes with your meter.
  3. You put the test strip in the meter.
  4. The meter will show a number.  This is your blood sugar level.

Take your meter to your next doctor visit so that your doctor can make sure you are using it correctly.

Checking your blood sugar level with your doctor

Another test your doctor might suggest is called the hemoglobin A1c or “A1c” for short.  This is a blood test that tells how your blood sugar has been over the last 2 or 3 months. Ask your doctor what your A1c result should be.  The goal for most people with diabetes is an A1c less than 7%.

Follow a diabetic diet

What you eat affects your blood sugar.  Ask a diabetes educator or dietitian 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.

A dietitian or diabetes educator can help you plan your meals and learn more about a healthy diabetic diet.  Medicare and many insurance plans will even help pay for sessions with a dietitian.

Keep a healthy blood pressure

High blood pressure can also harm your kidneys.  In fact, high blood pressure is the #2 cause of kidney failure.  (Remember, diabetes is the #1 cause.)  Having both diabetes and high blood pressure puts you more at risk for kidney disease and heart disease.

For most people with diabetes, a normal blood pressure is less than 130/80.  Ask your doctor how often you should get your blood pressure checked.  If your blood pressure is high, ask your doctor what you can do to lower it.

Live a healthy lifestyle

Managing your diabetes is key to keeping your kidneys healthy.  You can also help protect your kidneys by following other healthy habits.  Try to:

  • Be physically active
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Control your cholesterol
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol


Revised 12/10.

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