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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician.
The most common cause of kidney disease is diabetes. The bodies of people with diabetes do not use the hormone insulin properly or does not make insulin at all, so insulin injections or other diabetes medications are required. Because insulin helps keep the amount of sugar in the blood at a normal level, people with diabetes are at risk for both low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), especially when there are changes in diet, activity or medications. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low.
The greatest risk of low blood sugar occurs in someone who has both chronic kidney disease (CKD) and diabetes. Whether or not someone has diabetes, a person with CKD is at risk for low blood sugar because of changes in appetite and meal routine. When kidney function declines insulin and other diabetes medications remain in the system longer because of decreased kidney clearance. For a person with diabetes, insulin and other diabetes medications that lower blood sugar may require an adjustment to prevent low blood sugar.
Common causes of low blood sugar include:
People with chronic kidney disease sometimes experience a loss of appetite that can lead to skipping meals or not eating enough. This often causes a drop in blood sugar.
Some of the symptoms of low blood sugar include the following:
Some people with low blood sugar may not always experience these symptoms. If the sugar level falls too low, a person can sometimes faint, have a seizure or go into a coma.
For people with diabetes, there are ways to help prevent low blood sugar.
The healthcare team will work customize the dose and timing of medications to go with the diabetes and CKD patient’s daily routine and meal plan. If a meal is skipped or a person exercises more or less than usual, the result can be low blood sugar. Also, if you plan to switch dialysis treatments, you may need to check your blood sugar more often.
A person with kidney disease is at risk for low blood sugar. It is important for patients to learn the symptoms of low blood sugar and develop ways to help prevent it. Patients with diabetes must work with their healthcare team and be vigilant about following the team’s recommended meal and exercise plans. The greatest risk of low blood sugar occurs in someone who has both kidney disease and diabetes, so it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle that helps prevent so blood sugar levels.
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