People with diabetes and high blood pressure need to take care of their kidneys. According to the July issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a growing problem in the United States. The most common causes are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs that remove excess fluid and waste material from the blood. Kidney function can easily be taken for granted, but it's dangerous to do so. The kidneys keep the body's level of salt, potassium, phosphorous and calcium in balance. They release hormones that help the body regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells and form strong bones.

When kidneys are damaged, the filtering ability is impaired, and fluid and waste accumulate in the body. CKD can lead to kidney failure and the need for kidney dialysis or transplant. CKD also can lead to other health problems such as anemia, weakened bones and cardiovascular disease. Even a small loss of kidney function can double the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure or other risk factors should work with a physician to monitor kidney health. CKD symptoms may not be noticed until kidneys are severely damaged. Tests are available that can aid in early detection and allow for treatments that often can keep the problem from getting worse. Urine tests can help determine an excess amount of protein in the urine, which may mean the kidney's filtering ability has been damaged by disease. Blood tests can check for creatine, a waste product that builds up in the blood when the kidneys aren't working properly. Rising blood pressure is a sign that damage has already occurred.

CKD has no cure, but treatment can help reduce complications and slow disease progression. Treatment includes controlling the underlying condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure; cutting back on protein in the diet and avoiding substances that can further damage kidneys, such as some over-the-counter pain relievers, oral preparations used for colonoscopy and contrast dyes used with some imaging exams.

Mayo Clinic

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