Monitor diabetes with regular doctor visits

If you have diabetes, you should plan on visiting your primary care provider at least every six months. Diabetes is a chronic disease that needs regular follow up care.

Diabetes calls for a daily routine of managing blood sugar with medicine and diet. Keeping blood sugar in a normal range is important for overall health. High blood sugar levels over time can lead to damage of the eyes, kidneys and circulation.

That damage can lead to problems that are best to avoid, including kidney disease or failure, vision problems or blindness and heart disease. So, it’s important for people with diabetes to see their doctor at least every six months. During these visits your doctor will check your:

  • Hemoglobin A1C – a long-term measure of blood sugar level.
  • Vision – uncontrolled diabetes causes changes in the retina or excess fluid, which results in blurred vision. This requires a special eye exam.
  • Kidneys – high blood sugar makes kidneys work extra hard, and damage to blood vessels also hurts kidney function.
  • Feet – diabetes can damage circulation and nerve endings, causing some people to stop feeling heat or cold. People can get ulcers on their feet when this happens.
  • Blood pressure

When caught early, damage to eyes, feet or kidneys can be fixed or slowed down. It is also essential for you to control your blood pressure. That’s why the  screenings are important to do every six months.

“Working together, you and your primary care provider make a strong team to give you the best chance to stay well, even if you do have diabetes,” says Safina Koreishi, MD, a medical director for Columbia Pacific CCO.

Here are a few tips for your six-month visit.

  • Have your blood glucose log ready. Some doctors may even ask you to send it before the visit.
  • Make sure your list of medications and supplements, prescription and over-the-counter, is updated.  
  • Write down any symptoms you’ve been having, and any questions you have.
  • Be prepared to talk about any lab results you’ve had, or to talk about scheduling some screenings.
  • Feel free to ask about any changes you should make in your treatment or in your daily routines, such as food and exercise, to help improve your test numbers.

“Don’t be afraid or shy of bringing symptoms up with your primary care provider, even if your visit is supposed to be for something else,” Dr. Koreishi says. “Your doctor will help you get the treatment or screenings you need, or reassure you if you’re OK.”

Managing diabetes well every day pays off with better health, mobility and quality of life.

Resources

American Diabetes Association 

Track your medications with a chart from careoregon.org/meds

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