11 Important Questions to Ask Your Diabetes Doctor

February 19,2023 |
Diabetes doctor answering her patient's questions in a hospital.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes sugar. It occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body can't effectively use the insulin produced, leading to elevated levels of glucose in the blood. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1, which is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells, and type 2, which is largely caused by lifestyle factors such as unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. If you’ve been diagnosed with either, or are at high-risk for type 2 diabetes, you may be lost or unsure of what to do. To help, consider some of the most important questions to ask your diabetes doctor.


1. What type of diabetes am I at risk for?

Knowing the type of diabetes that you're at risk for is important because it helps guide the appropriate prevention and management strategies. Each type of diabetes has different causes and risk factors, and requires a different approach to treatment and management.

For example, people with type 1 diabetes will need insulin therapy for life, while those with type 2 diabetes may be able to manage their condition through diet, exercise, and medication. Unfortunately, there’s not much that you can do if you’re at risk for type 1 diabetes other than continue leading a healthy lifestyle as it’s trigger is still largely unknown. If you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, it’s important to work with your doctor to make lifestyle changes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with the right approach. There are also several other types of diabetes that you may be at risk for.


2. What are the potential complications of diabetes?

There are several potential complications of untreated diabetes. The most common ones include:

Uncontrolled blood sugar levels over a long period of time can lead to these and other serious health problems. Regular monitoring, proper management, and seeking prompt medical attention when needed can help reduce the risk of these complications.


3. How can I prevent diabetes-related complications?

Even if you’re diagnosed with diabetes, there are several ways to help prevent diabetes-related complications or at least lower your risk. Your doctor will be able to provide you more information on these, but some of the best ways to manage your diabetes effectively include the following:

  • Maintain good blood sugar control
  • Exercise regularly
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Get regular check-ups and screenings
  • Prioritize foot care
  • Control stress


4. How can I be tested for diabetes?

Your diabetes doctor will likely recommend undergoing one or more tests in order to screen you for diabetes and prediabetes. Some of the most common include the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG), the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and the A1C test. All of these measure blood sugar levels in different settings. A random plasma glucose test may also be administered alongside the use of a continuous glucose monitor. Your doctor will determine which test is best for you based on your symptoms, medical history, and other factors.


5. What is my target range for blood glucose levels?

A typical target range for most people with diabetes is 70-130 mg/dL before meals and less than 180 mg/dL after meals. However, your doctor may set a different range for you based on your specific needs and health. For example, your range may vary based on type of diabetes, medical history, age, treatment plan, and even your personal goals. Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, in combination with other health measures, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, can help you and your doctor determine if your target range is being met.


6. What kind of diet should I follow?

Following a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet is an important part of diabetes management. In doing so, you’ll help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of complications. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to adhere to a specific meal plan. There are several diabetes-friendly diets that can be adapted and modified based on your needs, taste preferences, and more. The biggest things to focus on are controlling portion size, counting carbohydrates, increasing fiber intake, limiting processed and sugary foods, eating lean protein, and choosing healthy fats. If you’re struggling to find balance, consider working with a registered dietician who specializes in diabetes nutrition.


7. What’s the best exercise regimen for me?

Physical activity is another important part of managing diabetes, as it can help regulate blood sugar levels, lead to a healthier weight, and improve your cardiovascular health. However, what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Finding the right exercise regimen may take time, and it’s important to work with your doctor in the process. This is because people with certain health conditions (i.e., peripheral neuropathy) may need to avoid certain types of exercises.

Similarly, those who have never done strength training shouldn’t start lifting like someone who has been practicing for years. Instead, get cleared by your doctor and start slow. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week paired with two to three sessions of resistance training. Incorporate warmups and cool downs to prepare your body and reduce the risk of injury, and never push yourself if you experience any pain.


8. How often do I need to monitor my blood glucose levels?

The frequency you need to monitor your blood glucose levels depends on several factors, including the type of diabetes you have, your treatment plan, and the severity of your condition. People with type 1 diabetes generally need to monitor their blood sugar levels several times throughout the day, including before and after meals, snacks, and exercising. People with type 2 diabetes may need to monitor their blood glucose levels less frequently. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment plan, including when and how often to monitor blood glucose levels.

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, along with a healthy diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications, can help you manage your diabetes and reduce the risk of complications.


9. How do I adjust my insulin dosage or medication based on my food intake and physical activity?

Never adjust your insulin dosage or medications unless you’ve discussed doing so with your doctor. You will work together to develop a specific plan on how to make any adjustments based on food intake and physical activity, but they are extremely personalized numbers. Adjusting these numbers therefore requires careful consideration and assistance from a healthcare professional.


10. How do I recognize and treat low and high blood glucose levels?

Take the time to develop a plan of action for any signs or symptoms of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia and share it with your friends, family, and coworkers. Doing so may save your life, as extended time in these states can be life-threatening.

The signs of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia include shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, and headache. To treat hypoglycemia, eat or drink a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as fruit juice, candy, or glucose gel.

The signs of high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia include frequent urination, excessive thirst, blurred vision, and fatigue. To treat hyperglycemia, you may need to adjust your insulin or diabetes medication dose, increase your physical activity, or change your diet.

If your symptoms are not responding to treatment, seek medical attention immediately.


11. How often do I need to have check-ups?

How often you see your doctor depends on a few things. Generally speaking, the type of diabetes you have, how stable your blood glucose levels are, your overall health status, and your risk for diabetes related complications all play a role. Most people with diabetes see their doctor at least twice a year, but some people may need to go every other month. You should also attend routine eye exams, foot exams, and kidney function tests to monitor for any complications.

If you’re currently living with diabetes, work closely with your doctor to create an effective management plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. To help, Byram Healthcare has a range of continuous blood glucose monitors. We also offer diabetes support and educational materials to give you everything you need for comprehensive care.