The Diabetes Complication You Didn’t See Coming

Diabetes wordcloudThe number of people living with type 2 diabetes is increasing at a rapid rate. And it isn’t just about the diabetes. There are complications that can arise from this disease which are more serious than you may realize. Get informed!

One complication you may not have considered is kidney disease. People who suffer from type 2 diabetes may also develop a dangerous form of kidney disease that can leave them without a well-functioning renal system. When this happens, blood isn’t filtered properly and you won’t manufacture urine well enough to excrete body waste. The only real option for dealing with this issue is dialysis treatment.

Diabetes Can Harm Your Kidneys

Diabetes damages the microscopic tubes that travel through your kidneys. These tiny tubes are responsible for filtering your blood of toxic nitrogen-containing compounds. These are the compounds that produce urine and eliminate it from your body. When this damage happens to the kidney tubes, they become leaky and protein can seep into your urine. These proteins, called albumin, can be measured in the urine, and detection can be a real indicator that you are unhealthy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 35% of people living with diabetes have chronic kidney disease.

Lifestyle Changes Reduce Your Risk

A 2014 study published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology assessed the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions to help control kidney disease. The researchers took 5,000 adult subjects living in the United States with type 2 diabetes. The subjects were all overweight. Participants were placed into one of two groups. The first group received their regular care, which consisted of diabetes support and education, while the other group received a combination of a weight-reduction diet and an exercise program.

During the first year of the trial, the group receiving weight-loss advice regularly met with a dietician, case manager and fitness professional to keep them on track. Although this study trial began in 2001, it continued until 2012.

The research team discovered that after one year, the diet and exercise group lost 8.6% of their total body weight in contrast to the control group which lost only 1% of their body weight.

When Intense Intervention Makes the Difference

The fact the control group did not experience an average weight increase throughout this period is surprising to say the least.

The important fact regarding this study was throughout the trial period, those who were in the weight-loss and exercise group were also 31% less likely to develop kidney disease as a consequence of their diabetes compared to the control group.

According to study author Dr. William Knowler, from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, “This study indicates that an intense program of major behavioral change, including counseling, group session and mutual reinforcement can work.”

I feel his point is valid. It seems that while awareness is key, awareness alone isn’t enough to get the point across.

Diabetes education programs can’t just focus on lifestyle and strategy. What’s required is an intense intervention program to give more personalized support geared to individual lifestyle dynamics and unique challenges. The aim is to make sure the person with diabetes doesn’t develop a severe or life-threatening complication such as kidney disease.

Knowler, W., et al., “Effect of a long-term behavioural weight loss intervention on nephropathy in overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes: a secondary analysis of the Look AHEAD randomised clinical trial,” The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, August 2014; doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70156-1.