Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when kidneys become damaged over time and are unable to filter excess fluid, waste, and toxins from the blood as well as they should. An estimated 37 million adults in the U.S. have CKD – and most cases are undiagnosed. CKD can cause kidney failure or early cardiovascular disease if not treated, and diabetic patients with kidney disease tend to have more health complications as a result.
Diabetes is a leading cause of CKD, and approximately one out of every three individuals with diabetes has the condition. The following eight tips can help lower your risk for CKD and improve kidney health.
1. Get Tested for CKD
CKD often develops without any symptoms. Getting regular, specific blood and urine tests is the only sure way to know if you have CKD. Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to manage the condition and prevent further health issues. People with diabetes should have a urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) annually, although you should speak to your doctor about how often to check kidney function for your specific health needs.
2. Manage Your Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol
High blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol are also risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Managing your levels and keeping readings in your target range as often as possible is vital to good health. Discuss any medications or lifestyle changes that may be right for you with your doctor to help maintain these levels, and have an A1C blood sugar test at least twice every year or according to your provider’s instructions.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Choose fresh and healthy food options, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. There are also foods to avoid for kidney health, including soda, butter, mayonnaise, and foods high in sodium, like processed deli meats (which are also often high in nitrates) and many frozen meals.
4. Stay Physically Active
Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity each day, whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood, yoga, strength training, biking, or something else. The important thing is to keep moving! Making exercise part of your daily routine and finding an accountability partner are great ways to build healthy habits and have fun. Be sure to talk with your doctor before you begin a new exercise regimen.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is crucial to good health, yet many people don’t get enough. Adults should try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Having trouble getting to sleep? There are various apps available that may be able to help you get a good night’s rest.
7. Take Your Medications Regularly
Taking medications according to your doctor’s directions is vital to your health. Ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about your medications or if you’re experiencing side effects that are impacting your ability to take them. Additionally, review your medications list with your provider at least annually. Never stop taking medications without speaking to your doctor.
8. Stop Smoking
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for many diseases and contributes to many other health issues. You’re not alone, though; there are resources available to help you quit, including the Colorado QuitLine.
Talk to your health care provider and ask questions if you’re at risk for CKD. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can take the necessary steps to protect your kidneys and improve kidney health.