Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Kidney Disease and Diabetes: Care Instructions
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Kidney Disease and Diabetes: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

When you have diabetes, your body cannot make enough insulin or cannot use it properly. Your body needs insulin to help sugar move from the blood to the cells. Without insulin, your blood sugar gets too high.

High blood sugar damages your kidneys. This makes it harder for your kidneys to filter blood. Your body will begin to retain fluids, and waste products will build up in your blood.

If you have diabetes, it is very important to keep your blood sugar in your target range. There are many steps you can take to control your blood sugar. By controlling your blood sugar, you have the best chance to slow or stop damage to your kidneys.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

To control your diabetes and slow or stop damage to your kidneys

  • Control your blood sugar. Keep your blood sugar in your target range. Diabetes Canada recommends a hemoglobin A1c (Hb A1c) target level of 7% or less. Talk to your doctor about your blood sugar target. The lower your A1c, the better your chance of stopping kidney damage.
  • Lower your blood pressure. Keep your blood pressure below 130/80. Doctors recommend specific types of blood pressure medicines for all people who have diabetes and kidney disease. This is even true for some people who do not have high blood pressure. Examples of these medicines are ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).
  • Take your medicines. You may need to take several medicines. For instance, you may need a medicine for your diabetes, another to lower cholesterol, and others to lower your blood pressure. It is very important to take all your medicines just as your doctor tells you to and to keep taking them.
  • Eat wisely. Follow an eating plan that is good for both your diabetes and your kidneys. A dietitian can help you make an eating plan that spreads carbohydrate throughout the day and also has the right amounts of salt (sodium), fluids, and protein.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. If you need help to lose weight, talk to your doctor or dietitian. Even small changes can make a difference. Try to be aware of your portion sizes, eat more fruits and vegetables, and add some activity to your daily routine.
  • Exercise. Get at least at least 2½ hours of moderate to vigorous activity each week. It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. Walking is a great exercise that most people can do. Being more active can help you control your blood sugar as well as stay at a healthy weight. Being active also can help you lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

To improve your kidney health

  • Lower your cholesterol. Keep your LDL less than 100 mg/dL and HDL level of 40 to 60 mg/dL or higher. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medicine and suggest that you cut back on saturated fat.
  • Follow your treatment plan. Check your blood sugar as many times a day as your doctor recommends. Go to all of your follow-up appointments, and have all the tests your doctor orders. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicines.
  • Take a low-dose aspirin every day if your doctor suggests it. Most doctors believe this can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Your risk of these diseases is much greater than your risk of kidney failure.
  • Avoid tobacco. Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse nausea and vomiting.
  • You have much less urine than normal, or you have no urine.
  • You are feeling confused or cannot think clearly.
  • You have new or more blood in your urine.
  • You have new swelling.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter C726 in the search box to learn more about "Kidney Disease and Diabetes: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.