Nine Questions for Your Diabetes Care Team
If you have diabetes, use the time you have with your healthcare team to your advantage. At every visit to your doctor, bring a list of questions to make sure you’re doing all that you can to take care of your diabetes. The following set of questions is designed to help you start a dialogue with your doctor about managing diabetes.
1. When was the last time my A1C was tested?
A1C measures diabetes control over the past three months. Research has shown that tight control over glucose (sugar) means fewer diabetic complications, so having this test performed regularly is key to maintaining your health, whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. You should aim for an A1C reading of 7% or lower. Based on the outcome of this test, your healthcare provider should work with you to either reinforce best practices, or educate you about how to reach a better A1C level.
2. What were the results of my last lipid profile?
This test determines your blood fat levels, meaning your cholesterol and triglycerides. There are two types of cholesterol: HDL (the good cholesterol that protects against heart disease) and LDL (the bad kind that can damage your heart). Your LDL levels should be lower than 100, and even under 70 for those at very high risk. Triglycerides, another fat, should be less than 150, but be sure to discuss your individual goals with your healthcare team.
3. How often should I be checking my blood glucose?
How often you test depends on what kind of medication you take to control diabetes. If you’re not on insulin, your doctor may recommend testing just two times per day. However, if you’re on insulin, then your healthcare provider will likely recommend testing at least four times per day. Your healthcare provider should work with you to devise an individualized testing schedule based on your health needs.
4. What kind of dietary guidelines should I be following?
There is a common misconception that there is a “diabetic diet” that all people with diabetes should follow, but the truth is that every person is different. Also, there is no reason for you to eliminate all sugar from your diet. By working with your healthcare team, you’ll find a nutrition plan that is right for you.
5. How do my feet look?
It may sound silly, but your healthcare provider should examine your feet at every visit. In addition to this, you should be examining your own feet daily for any 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 and look 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 did, make sure your healthcare team goes over the results with you when you meet. Since all people with diabetes are at risk for retinopathy, be conscientious about receiving proper eye care.
7. What’s my blood pressure?
Keeping blood pressure less than 130/80 is essential if you have diabetes. If your blood pressure is out of control, it can damage your eye blood vessels, which are already at risk for damage from too much glucose. So, it is to your advantage to work with your healthcare team to keep your blood pressure in check.
8. When was my last test for microalbuminuria?
This urine test will verify if protein is in the urine. Protein indicates that you are at risk for kidney problems, especially if not treated. You’ll want to keep the results from this test at less than 30 mg. If caught early, damage to your kidneys can be slowed. In addition to a test for microalbuminuria, you should also ask your provider for your GFR, which measures your kidneys’ filling capacity. Working with your healthcare team to keep your blood pressure and blood glucose in range may prove to be the best way to keep your kidneys healthy. Staying vigilant about the health of your kidneys is essential when you have diabetes.
9. I wanted to ask you about…
Lastly, always bring a list of any other concerns you may have about how diabetes is affecting your health. Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to a specialist if you want more information than your provider has available.
Find more information about diabetes, check out the book What You Need to Know about Diabetes – A Short Guide available from the Joslin Online Store.
Page last updated: May 18, 2013