A diabetes diagnosis should not be taken lightly. Yes, it will take time and determination to adapt to living with the condition, fortunately, diabetes can be controlled, allowing for a near-normal lifestyle. This includes adapting to new medication, making changes to your diet and exercise regimens, and the need for consistent self-monitoring
When an adult is diagnosed with diabetes, it is most likely type 2 diabetes. For those with type 2 diabetes, the body does not utilize insulin effectively and blood sugar levels become elevated. While the body tries to compensate by producing more insulin, it is ineffective and blood glucose levels remain elevated. As a result, these sustained high blood glucose levels are damaging to the body and can cause serious health problems.
Given your diagnosis, you probably have a lot of questions for your doctor. To assist you in having a productive Q&A session with your doctor where all bases are covered, here is a list of questions, that once answered, should provide you an understanding of how diabetes will affect your life moving forward.
Basic questions to ask your doctor when first learning about your diabetes diagnosis
- How did I develop diabetes?
- What are the primary risk factors?
- What type of diabetes do I have? Is it type 1 or type 2? Are they treated the same?
- Will I have diabetes for my entire life?
- Are there any stages of diabetes, and if yes, what are they?
- What are the possible complications and how do I deal with them?
- Does having diabetes increase my chances of other medical problems?
Once you know that you have diabetes, you have the responsibility to follow all steps to keep it under control, including personally monitoring your blood sugar, diet, and exercise.
If your blood sugar is not well controlled, diabetes can cause cardiovascular and neurological damage involving kidney and heart function, as well as neuropathy and circulatory problems. The latter can lead to mobility issues, even amputation. Uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to impaired vision, even blindness. Maintaining dental health is especially important for diabetics as well since oral infections are more likely to lead to systemic infections.
As a result, you may need to arrange periodic visits to several different healthcare professionals besides your primary care physician. These can include a podiatrist to check your feet, an ophthalmologist to check your eyes, and a dentist for cleanings and exams. You will also need to schedule regular appointments with your primary care physician to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, and A1C levels.
Make your doctor a partner in care.
Once you have a basic understanding of what your diagnosis of diabetes means, it is important to ask questions that are more specific about your care, including information about prescribed medications, monitoring your blood glucose levels, and changes to your lifestyle.
Beyond the basics: follow-up questions for your doctor
Monitoring Blood Sugar
- How often should I check my blood sugar?
- When should I check my blood sugar?
- What is a normal blood sugar level? What is too low? What is too high? What should I do if my blood sugar is out of range?
- What are some signs that my blood sugar is too high or too low?
Monitoring cholesterol and blood pressure levels
High blood pressure and high levels of “bad” cholesterol are common in people with diabetes and can increase the risk of circulatory and cardiac complications.
- When should I check my cholesterol and blood pressure levels?
- What is the importance of diet for managing diabetes?
- Will I have to cut down on my favorite foods to keep my diabetes under control?
- Do I need to lose weight to bring my diabetes under control?
- What foods increase my blood sugar the most?
- What foods can help me achieve my weight loss goals?
- Does exercise help to keep my diabetes under control?
- Do I need to tweak my exercise plan?
- What type of exercise program is best for me?
- What kind of exercise should I avoid?
- Do I need to check my blood sugar when exercising?
- What is best: eat before or during exercise?
- Should I adjust my medicines when I exercise?
Diabetes is known to harm your feet if your blood sugar is not controlled. Chronically high blood sugar levels may lead to nerve damage; foot deformities; foot ulcers that don’t heal; blood vessel damage leading to reduced blood flow within your feet.
- Should I see a podiatrist regularly?
- When should I check my feet? What should I do when I check them? What problems should I call my podiatrist about?
- Is it OK if I trim my toenails, or should that be done by my podiatrist?
- Is there a daily routine for taking care of my feet?
- Are any special shoes and socks needed?
- How often should I make appointments for eye exams?
- What eye problems should I contact my doctor about?
- Can I conceive if I have diabetes?
- Does diabetes affect fetal development?
- What is gestational diabetes?
- Are my children at a higher risk of getting diabetes?
- How do I prevent my children from getting diabetes?
- How should I handle my diabetes when I travel?
Questions about your Diabetes Medication
Non-Insulin and Insulin are the two major classes of medication for treating Type 2 Diabetes.
Questions to ask your doctor about non-insulin diabetes medications, specifically metformin or a sulfonylurea (SFU) at diagnosis:
Why am I being prescribed metformin or a sulfonylurea (SFU) at diagnosis?
Metformin is often the first non-insulin medication prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) because it’s safe, effective and affordable due to generic options. It does not cause low blood sugar on its own because it