About half of those who have diabetes will eventually develop early signs of kidney damage, such as impaired kidney function or the development of protein in the urine. Unfortunately, though, early kidney damage has few symptoms, so it's important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney function. It's also important to be aware of the risk of kidney damage so that you can do as much as you can to minimize it.

While you may not be able to completely protect your kidneys from the effects of diabetes, the following steps will help your kidneys stay as healthy as possible:

  • Keep control of your blood sugar levels with the help of your health care team.
  • Ask your physician or primary health care provider about regular urine and blood tests to monitor your kidney function.
  • Check your blood pressure regularly - your health care team can advise you on your target blood pressure and how often to check.
  • Eat a healthy diet - your physician or dietitian can advise you on the best foods for you to choose or avoid.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Keep your cholesterol under good control.
  • Exercise regularly.

Your physician or primary health care provider may also recommend that you take a medication called an ACE inhibitor (e.g., lisinopril, enalapril) or an ARB (e.g., losartan, candesartan) to help protect your kidneys.