It might surprise some that people with diabetes often are unaware that kidney disease is a fairly common complication. UK researchers report that awareness of the risk of renal disease is low among people with diabetes.
“The people we spoke to experienced feelings of surprise, fear and regret when they found out their kidneys had been affected,” said Professor Gurch Randhawa, director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire and an expert in diversity in public health.
The study has been published in the March edition of the Journal of Renal Care.
Dr. Randhawa said some patients saw their diagnosis with kidney problems as a “wake-up call” that they needed to manager their diabetes more seriously, while others were concerned about their lack of knowledge about the disease.
“What was clear was that many of the patients we spoke to were much more aware of how diabetes could affect their eyes and feet than their kidneys,” a news release on the study states.
Researchers conclude that “long-term educational needs of patients who have had diabetes for many years are just as important as the need to make newly diagnosed patients aware of all the health risks they face.”
My family doctor was the first to diagnose me with kidney disease in the mid-1980s. It’s progressions ultimately prompted his referral to Dr. Vijay Bahl, an endocrinologist at UPMC Shadyside, who said in 1995 that I’d likely be on dialysis in four years.
That was 16 years ago. Still no dialysis. But I’m getting close. But news of pending kidney failure prompted me to tighten control of my diabetes to a point where I have, since then, maintained normal blood-glucose levels.
Bottom line, kidney disease can sneak up and bag you. You don’t feel it. Even now I couldn’t definitely explain what symptoms I have, even with only 10-percent kidney function.
You need the numbers from blood work to gauge kidney function and disease levels.
So, if you have diabetes, visit your nephrologist.
Pay close attention to creatinine levels, which are the key metric to gauge kidney function.
A key to good diabetes management is to prevent complications. But if complications arise, it is important to find out as early as possible so you can take measures to stop or reduce the progression.
As my father once said, the key to good health is being diagnosed with a disease and taking good care of it.