Visiting Your Doctor: What To Expect
Your first doctor’s visit after a diabetes diagnosis will consist of a standard physical exam—with special emphasis on the eyes, skin and feet. Your doctor will inquire about your medical history, lifestyle and diet. But there will also be some additional tests and some new vocabulary for you to learn.
First, you will definitely have your blood and urine tested for important things like cholesterol, fat, urine proteins—an indicator of kidney damage, blood glucose and your glycated hemoglobin level—better known as your A1c.
The A1c represents your average blood glucose levels over the last three months and is usually tested every 3 to 6 months. More than likely, your doctor has already performed this test to confirm your diagnosis. The results are usually given as a percentage, with 7 percent or lower being the goal for people with diabetes.
As you learn to manage your blood glucose levels with insulin, diet and exercise, this test tracks your progress. A1c results do have some margin for error and can fluctuate, so it’s important not to place too much emphasis on it. Most importantly, if your results aren’t what you hoped, don’t get discouraged. The A1c is one tool among many that you and your doctors will be using to gauge how effective your treatment has been.
Education and Referrals to Specialists
Your doctor will also discuss education and seeing other healthcare professionals. He or she may refer you to a certified diabetes educator (CDE), a dietitian, an endocrinologist and eye and foot specialists. You may not need to see all of these health professionals right after your diagnoses, however, you may want to ask your doctor which specialist you should visit first. Be sure to ask your doctor to send you home with any other essential information necessary for your plan.
Creating Your Diabetes Treatment Plan
You are the most important person on your diabetes care team. Work with your doctor to build a custom treatment plan with manageable and achievable goals. Just as your diabetes is unique to your body, the way you treat it will need to be customized to your life. Type 2 diabetes self-management isn’t one-size-fits-all. Everyone has different ways to address how diabetes affects their overall health.
This varies among fitness levels, diet preferences, medication regimens and mental and emotional health factors. For you, all of these factors will evolve over time as your life changes, therefore, you need to be involved in adjusting your diabetes management plan to maintain optimal health as you see fit.
Ask Your Doctor:
- How to monitor your blood sugar levels and, and though it’s rare for people with type 2 diabetes, when to test for ketones. Ketones are chemicals produced when your body uses fat for fuel due to a lack of insulin’s ability to use glucose for energy.
- The names and dosages of your medications, as well as when you should take extra or fewer dosages due to a health emergency such as hyper- or hypoglycemia, known as high or low blood sugar, respectively.
- To schedule you for future appointments and examinations.
The Months Ahead
There are some tests that your doctor will reserve for annual visits such as cholesterol, kidney, foot, or eyes screenings. but another A1c test, along with a general physical check-up and a revision of your blood glucose levels and insulin dosages should occur every four months.
At future appointments, you and your doctor should discuss:
- Results of any recent tests.
- The record of your blood glucose levels and any instances of very high or very low levels. It’s crucial not to hide or downplay any problems. Consistent highs or lows can indicate you need to make changes in treatment plan. Working with your doctor to make adjustments can help you feel more confident in your ability to control diabetes in your life.
- Concerns about other health issues such as blood pressure, cholesterol, foot, or eye.
- Activity levels, exercise, stress, mood swings, depression and dietary struggles.
- Any other barriers or successes to managing diabetes.
Regular doctor’s and specialist visits are essential to managing diabetes and reduce the risks of serious diabetes-related complications. Never feel ashamed seeing your healthcare provider and ; your healthcare team is dedicated to helping you achieve the highest quality of life. Unless you tell them what’s wrong, they’ll never know how to help you. Be honest, open and remember, no one knows your body like you do.