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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Uncontrolled Diabetes and High Blood Pressure can Destroy the Kidneys

The kidneys are vital organs in the human body.  They filter the blood of metabolic waste products, excess electrolytes, fluids and toxins like, urea. There are millions of microscopic filters in the kidneys called glomeruli which cleanse the blood through oncotic pressure.  There is an exchange of ions such as sodium and potassium in the filtering process, also.  Ions which are needed are reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.  The ions that aren’t needed are excreted in the urine along with toxins and waste products.  These are just a few of the many functions of the kidneys.

Someone who I know is suffering from renal failure resulting from uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure.  The dialysis patient requires hemodialysis at least 3 times per week.  It is a very exhausting process and the dialysis patient is connected for hours to a machine that cycles and cleans the patient’s blood.  The machine essentially does the job that a pair of healthy kidneys would do. 

Dialysis is not a pleasant process, either.  The patient has a couple of shunts inserted in one arm and in the neck artery.  It is like a catheter embedded into the vein to facilitate the process.  The process of inserting and removing the needles is painful and leaves ugly scars, especially keloids. 

The patient complains about severe cramping during and after the procedure.  Then, they go home and spend the day resting after the exhausting procedure.  Not to mention that they are required to maintain a special diet and are on several medications.  They are not able to work and declared disabled.  The patient is currently waiting for the chance to get on the kidney transplant list.

How Uncontrolled Diabetes Affects the Kidneys

Conditions like uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure are very damaging to the glomeruli in the kidneys.  Type II diabetics, with uncontrolled blood glucose and insulin levels are at increased risk of kidney damage.  Persons suffering from type II diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t function to properly metabolize sugars.  When there isn't enough insulin in the blood to breakdown sugars, a diabetic's body can't use the excess glucose for energy.  So, fats are utilized for energy, instead of glucose.  This can lead to increased levels of ketones in the blood. 

The ketones are the metabolic by products of fat breakdown. They are really toxic to the blood and kidneys.  But, it is the job of the kidneys to filter this waste out of the blood and into the urine. This dangerous cycle is called diabetic ketoacidosis.  It occurs when people with Type II Diabetes have high blood insulin levels. The ketones build up in the kidneys and blood can lead to glomerulonephritis (inflammation and destruction of the glomeruli), kidney failure, coma and even death.

The Effects of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure on The Kidneys

People with hypertension are at increased risk of stroke and heart attack.  Chronic hypertension can destroy the glomeruli in the kidneys by way of very high oncotic pressure.  So, this cause the kidneys to improperly filter out excess fluids and electrolytes.  The body becomes more prone to retaining salt and water.  It also starts a cycle of the kidneys having to work harder.

Some people have a genetic predisposition towards developing these chronic illnesses. Sometimes, people aren’t even aware that they suffer from these ailments until much damage has already been done to the body. Many forms of glomerulonephritis are irreversible. If at all possible, the proper measures must be taken to prevent these diseases from occurring. 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Regular physical exams are a good idea to detect any problems in the early stages.  Generally, when there is glucose and ketones found in the urine, along with high fasting glucose levels, it's an indication of diabetes. 

It is vitally important for diabetics to keep track of the blood glucose levels. That’s why diabetics prick themselves with a needle and check their blood insulin levels frequently though out the day.  They must make sure that they take their insulin as prescribed by their doctor and check their blood sugar levels.

It is also important for people with hypertension to monitor their blood pressure.  Inexpensive blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose monitors are available online and in pharmacies.  Free blood pressure check machines at most Publix and Walmart super centers. 

There are often opportunities to get blood glucose meters free by taking advantage of sales and using coupon match-ups.  However, you don’t need to run out and buy one of these unless you have been diagnosed as a diabetic by doctor.  Routine annual physical exams will uncover these diseases.

Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight; Obesity and poor diet are contributing factors in both diabetes and hypertension. 

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a suggested diet for people with high blood pressure.  The most important thing to do is to eat a low-fat, low-sodium, balanced diet.  Spicy foods tend to raise the blood pressure.  I know several people who have high blood pressure that must go to the emergency room after eating really spicy foods.  And, drink plenty of fresh water to keep the body hydrated and flush the kidneys.  People with renal failure should drink the amount of fluids suggested by their physician.

Stress is a contributing factor in the onset of many chronic illnesses, especially hypertension.  Be sure to get enough rest and relaxation.  Yoga and meditation practice are good for reducing stress.

I hope that this post inspires more people to take better care of themselves.  

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