When you’re living with diabetes, it often takes a team to help you meet your needs. Having such a team in your corner can make a world of difference in keeping on track. In addition to your doctor or nurse practitioner, your team may include a nurse and dietitian educator, an exercise physiologist and/or a therapist.
Here are eight essential questions you should ask your care team, to generate a healthy dialogue about managing your diabetes:
1. What is my AC1 and when was it last tested? A1C measures the average level of glucose (sugar) in the blood over the past two to three months. Research shows that tight control over glucose means fewer complications, so having this test performed regularly is key to maintaining your health.
2. What were the results of my last lipid profile? This test determines your levels of blood fat: cholesterol and triglyceride. There are two types of cholesterol: HDL, or the good type, which protects you against heart disease; and LDL, the bad type, which can damage your heart. Knowing your cholesterol levels, is the first step to keep you on track to meeting your lipid goals.
3. How often should I check my blood glucose? This depends on the types of medication you take, to control diabetes. Your team should work with you to devise an individualized testing schedule based on your health needs.
4. What sort of dietary guidelines should I follow? Everyone is different. By working with your health-care team, you’ll find a nutrition plan that is right for you.
5. How do my feet look? Your doctor or nurse practitioner should examine your feet at every visit. In addition, you should examine daily your own feet for wounds or anything out of the ordinary. Because people with diabetes often have problems with circulation and/or reduced sensitivity, your eyes have to do the job your feet can’t, by looking for signs of trouble.
6. What were the results of my last dilated-eye exam by an ophthalmologist? If you haven’t had a dilated-eye exam in the last year, get one. If you have had one, make sure your health-care team reviews the results with you.
7. What’s my blood pressure? Keeping blood pressure at 130/80 or below is essential, when you have diabetes. If your blood pressure is out of control, damage to your eyes’ blood vessels could result. So to work with your health-care team to keep your blood pressure in check.
8. What is my microalbumin and when was it last checked? This test checks kidney function. The test results should be less than 30 milligrams. Early detection of “protein in the urine” can help prevent damage to the kidneys.
Don’t forget to provide your care team with a list of any other concerns you may have regarding how diabetes affects your health.