February is Black history month, and The Iya Foundation, Inc is spreading awareness about the increased risk of diabetes and kidney disease in Blacks, and the importance of health management to prevent these chronic health conditions. Blacks are at higher risk of kidney failure because they suffer the most from diabetes and high blood pressure; which are the two leading causes of kidney failure. Diabetes is the number 1 leading cause of kidney failure; causing almost half of all cases in the United States (40%).
Having diabetes means your body has problems with a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps your body use the sugar you eat for energy. When your body doesn’t use sugar the way it should, too much of it stays in your blood, and can be harmful to the filters in your kidneys.
An estimated 4.9million – about 18.7% of all non-Hispanic blacks aged 20 and older have diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes. Blacks are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes (1 in 9 African American adults have diabetes) as non –Hispanic whites and are more likely to suffer diabetes related complications such as kidney failure and lower extremity amputations. As a matter of fact, unmanaged diabetes is four times more likely to cause kidney failure in Blacks than other races and can also lead to serious complications such as blindness, limp amputation, heart attack, and stroke. Sadly over the last 35 years, the number of people with diabetes has doubled.
Considering the fact that almost 1 in 5 Blacks are not insured, it is no doubt that their health care choices or access to health care may be limited, hence giving them that increased risk of complications that come with unmanaged diabetes.
The good news however is that people with diabetes can reduce the risk for these compilations by controlling blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids.
Although anyone can develop diabetes, you are at increased risk if you:

  •  Are over 45 years old
  •  Are over weight
  •  Are African American, Hispanic, native American, or Asian
  •  Have a family history of diabetes
  •  Have high blood pressure

Although some of the risk factors such as age, family history, and race can’t be changed, factors such as weight can be controlled. These kinds of simple healthy changes can help you prevent or control diabetes and help protect your kidneys.
Symptoms of diabetes include:

  •  Feeling tired
  •  Feeling irritable
  •  Urinating more than normal
  •  Being very thirsty
  •  Being very hungry
  •  Unexplained weight loss
  •  Blurred vision

The following steps can help individuals with diabetes control their disease and prevent or delay complications:

  • Learn About Diabetes. Diabetes is serious because it can damage your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves
  • Know Your Numbers. Ask your doctor what diabetes target numbers are best for you. Learn about your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers (known as the ABCs of diabetes)
  • Manage Your Diabetes. Keep track of your diabetes numbers, be active on most days of the week, eat healthy, and don’t smoke
  • Get Regular Care. Contact your health care team if you have any questions or problems as you manage your diabetes, medicines, or supplies

Ways to prevent kidney Disease:

  •  Get Tested. Early detection saves lives; it could delay kidney failure and possibly prevent kidney failure. Talk to your doctor about being tested for diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Many patients with kidney disease never have any symptoms until it is too late. Ask your doctor to perform a blood and urine test for kidney disease
  •  Eat right. Eat food low in fat and cholesterol. Eat foods that are high in fiber; and limit how much alcohol you drink
  •  Live healthy. Exercise, keep a healthy weight, don’t smoke or use tobacco, and treat bladder and kidney infections fast
  •  Manage diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes and high blood pressure cause about 3 out of 4 cases of kidney failure

Despite the increased risk of kidney disease and diabetes in African Americans and Africans, type 2 diabetes can be managed as well as prevented or delayed, which can reduce the chance of having other health issues down the road.
Think you may have diabetes or at risk? Ask your doctor about being tested for diabetes, high blood pressure, as well as your kidney functioning.
Already suffering from diabetes? Talk with your doctor on how to best manage it in order to prevent or slow diabetic kidney disease and eventual kidney failure.
With your support, The Iya Foundation, Inc is confident a feasible detection, surveillance and treatment program can be established to slow, and possibly prevent the progression of kidney disease in the U.S, and particularly in the African Immigrant Community in the U.S.
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