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Managing Blood Sugar For Kidney Health

Diabetes and Blood Sugar

Diabetes is a serious disease in which your body has trouble controlling the level of sugar in your blood (also called "glucose"). Over time, having high blood sugar can cause damage to your eyes, nerves, heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. Good control of blood sugar and other self-management actions can help slow or stop this damage from happening. It can also help you maintain kidney health.

Diabetes and Your Kidneys

You have two kidneys —each is about the size of a fist. Kidneys clean waste from your blood. Over time, having high blood sugar from diabetes can cause damage inside your kidneys. As a result, they filter out some good things along with waste. As more damage happens, kidneys will have less function and waste builds up. This is known as chronic kidney disease (CKD). Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease. Controlling blood sugar helps lessen your risk for getting kidney disease. It can also help slow or even stop kidney disease from getting worse.

33% of adults in the U.S. are at risk for kidney disease.

Find out if you're at risk.

Managing Blood Sugar

Ask your doctor what your blood sugar targets should be. Not everyone will have the same blood sugar target.  In general, the recommended targets for most people are:

  • Before meals: 80-130 mg/dL
  • Two hours after the start of a meal: Below 180 mg/dL
  • A1C Test: Around 7%

What can make blood sugar rise above target range in people with diabetes?

  • A meal or snack with more food or more carbohydrates than usual
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Not enough diabetes medication
  • Side effects of some other medications
  • Infection or other illness such as a cold or the flu
  • Changes in your hormone levels, such as during menstrual periods
  • Stress

What can make blood sugar fall lower than target range in people with diabetes?

  • A meal or snack with less food or fewer carbohydrates than usual
  • Drinking alcohol, especially on an empty stomach
  • Missing a meal or snack; fasting
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • More physical activity than usual
  • Too much diabetes medicine
  • Side effects of some other medicines

How can I keep track of my blood sugar levels?

  • Use a blood glucose meter to measure your blood sugar at a particular time during the day or as often as your doctor recommends.
  • Get an A1C blood check at least twice a year.
  • Use a log book to write down your test results. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to get to your targets and stay there!

Where can I get more information?

The National Kidney Foundation has free booklets that provide more information about diabetes. Call the national toll-free number 855.653.2273 and ask for free booklets on diabetes. You can see these and other titles at

Date Reviewed: November 2014

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