Pharmacy Corner
Diabetes: self-monitoring blood glucose & things to watch out for Diabetic Kidney Damage

What do my kidneys do?

Your kidneys filter your blood and get rid of waste by producing urine 2. This filtering system is made up of millions of tiny blood vessels inside the kidneys that push waste out into the urine and allows the rest of the filtered blood to flow back to the heart. Damage to the kidneys is described by the term nephropathy or chronic kidney disease.

If my kidneys are responsible for clearing the waste from my blood, can’t it just clear the excess sugar?

Our kidneys actually want to keep as much sugar as they can because sugar is a very important source of energy for us! Unfortunately, when the tiny blood vessels of your kidneys are exposed to high blood sugars for a long period of time, they become damaged and don’t filter as well.2,3 When the damage becomes severe enough it is called kidney failure.

I’ve seen the terms ACR and eGFR on my lab work; what do they mean and what are they testing?

If your kidneys are working well, there should be very little protein in the urine.

ACR stands for albumin/creatinine ratio and is a test to see how much protein is in your urine.2 Albumin is a very large protein that is usually just found in our blood. When you have albumin in the urine, it means the kidneys are no longer filtering well and some of the albumin is spilling into the urine. The more albumin there is in the urine, the worse the condition of your kidneys are.

eGFR stands for estimated glomerular filtration rate and it tells us how well your kidneys are working.2 If you have a low eGFR, it tells your doctor that you have some form of kidney disease.

I’ve heard there isn’t anything to look out for with kidney damage, is this true?

This is true. For most people they don’t have any symptoms until their kidneys are severely damaged. This is why monitoring the kidneys is so important. The best thing you can do is to get your regular blood and urine work done. This can allow your doctor to check how your kidneys are functioning.

Tip

Tip: The term “microalbuminuria” is used to describe small amounts of albumin in the urine. If you have microalbuminuria, you have early signs of kidney damage.2 This can progress to “overt nephropathy” which describes larger quantities of albumin, and possibly other proteins, in your urine.2 Don’t let your kidneys get severely damaged! Follow up with your family doctor regularly to make sure they are protected!