7 Diabetes Questions To Ask Your Doctor

by Cindy

Ask Your Doctor These Seven Questions If You Have Diabetes!

2008.11.25 - The physician
Creative Commons License photo credit: a.drian
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes it is important that you fully understand what is going on with your body, the potential for harm that this condition has and how to achieve your doctor’s expectations for treatment.  If you have diabetes, you should know the answers to the following questions.  If you do not know the answers, ask your doctor these questions at your next office visit.

1. What Should My Blood Sugar Treatment Goals Be?

The American Diabetes Association has specific target values in mind for patients with diabetes. 

  • Fasting Blood Sugar Levels:  The goal of treatment for diabetes is for fasting blood sugars to fall below 100 mg/dl.  Be sure to ask your doctor to compare your most recent glucose meter readings to see how your sugars are improving! Blood Sugar Before Meals:  Most patients should aim for glucose levels to be between 70 mg/dl to 130 mg/dl before meals. 
  • Blood Sugar After Meals: Your blood sugar after meals should remain below 180 mg/dl.  

Not sure how to use your glucose meter?  Click here to learn more about how to use a glucometer or check out our glucometer compatibility chart to compare different models!

Your physican will optimize your treatment plan based on your other risk factors, such as:

  • Age
  • Duration of diabetes
  • Other Health conditions
  • Life expectancy

2. What Is My Hemoglobin A1c And What Should It Be?

Your hemoglobin a1c should be measured every 3 months to determine how your overall glucose control has been.  Your physician will likely monitor your hemoglobin a1c and will recommend that this falls below 7.0%.

3. What Specialists Should I See?

There are numerous complications from diabetes that include foot problems, nerve damage, cardiovascular disease and more.  Diabetic patients may see the following specialists:

  • Opthamologist:  This specialist will examine the retina at least annually to screen for signs of diabetic retinopathy, which is a leading cause of adult blindness in the United States.
  • Podiatrist:  These doctors are trained to examine and treat foot conditions and they are an essential part of the diabetic health care team.  Your podiatrist will check your feet for signs of loss of circulation, decreased sensation and evidence of infection.  This doctor may advise you to have foot problems corrected with special orthotic devices, orthopedic shoes or with surgery.
  • Certified Diabetic Educator:  These health care professionals are very knowledgeable about diabetes and can work with you to improve your blood sugar levels using diet, exercise and weight loss.  They are a wonderful addition to your health team because the diabetic educator can take time to explain your condition in detail and they can help you overcome barriers to your treatment.
  • Endocrinologist:  These doctors specialize in the treatment of all types of diabetes.  Not all diabetic patients will need to see an endocrinologist if your sugars are well controlled.

4. How Will You Screen For Complications of Diabetes?

Your physician will screen for complications of diabetes using a variety of resources that includes:

  • Blood Work:  Your blood should be tested routinely to monitor your kidney function and cholesterol levels.  How often you need blood work will vary based on your chronic health conditions and how well your diabetes is controlled.
  • Urine Studies:  Your physician can tell a lot about your kidney function and how your sugars are controlled using simple urine tests.
  • Physical Exam:  As part of a complete physical examination, your doctor should examine your eyes, monitor your blood pressure and check the sensation in your feet.  You should have a complete physical yearly.
  • Additional Tests:  Depending on your physical exam findings, family history and other risk factors your doctor may check your heart with an EKG or cardiac stress test.  You may be asked to have your circulation checked in your legs or in your carotid arteries.   

5. What Vaccinations Do I Need?

In addition to standard vaccinations, it is advised that people with diabetes receive an annual influenza vaccination and the pneumoccal vaccine as advised by their physician. 

6. How Do I Use My Glucometer?

All patients with diabetes should understand how to use their glucose meter.  Frequency of testing varies widely depending on the patient.  Be sure you know the answer to the following questions:

  • When and how often should I check my glucose?
  • What reading is too high?  What should I do if my readings are above this number?
  • What reading is too low?  What should I do if my readings are below this number?
  • When should I call your office?
  • What requires a visit to the ER?

7. How Often Do I Need To Be Seen For Follow Up Care?

Again, the answer to this question is variable depending on the level of your sugar control, how long you have had diabetes and your other health problems.  All diabetics should be seen at least every 6 months but most will be seen every 3 months. 

 

Patients who understand their condition and their doctor’s expectations tend to have better outcomes than those that do not.  If you are unsure of the answers to the above questions, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor at your next visit so that you can take better control of your diabetes!

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