With diabetes there are often important choices to make and many
things to remember. This is why every consultation with your doctor or
nurse is so useful in getting your questions answered and receiving
treatment advice. Naturally, you want the best from your meeting, so
you can come up with a joint plan to successfully manage your diabetes.
It could be of some help to make a list of topics about your
diabetes care that you can discuss with your diabetes care team, such as:
Your blood sugar levels and target number
amount and type of medication (pills or injections)
pressure and blood cholesterol
Risk factors for
cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease or stroke
Diet and weight management
Exercise and physical
Discussions of many of these topics will be more fruitful if you come
to your consultation armed with detailed logs of your insulin dosing,
sugar readings, health & lifestyle habits and activities. It can
be a little challenging to stay on top of gathering all of this
information, but it will help you have a more productive consultation
with your doctor or nurse, who will find this information invaluable
in helping you optimise your treatment plan.
Your diabetes, your
But do you know which numbers you need to keep an eye on? A test you
may be familiar with is the A1C or HbA1c test,
often called the glycosylated haemoglobin test. It provides a picture
of your average sugar level for the previous 2-3 months and is useful
in providing an overall idea of how your treatment plan is working.
What it does not do, however, is allow you and your
doctor or nurse to pinpoint daily fluctuations in your glucose
levels and what might trigger them.
The value of historical numbers
It is highly likely that your doctor or nurse has asked you to keep
track of certain aspects of your diabetes so you can discuss your
progress at each appointment.
To get an understanding of how everything affects your diabetes,
it’s important to gather enough numbers, such as your sugar levels and
insulin usage; ideally also your diet, level of activity; and other
lifestyle factors, over a period of time.
When you have these types of data available for your doctor during
your consultation, they could help shed light on how your diet,
lifestyle factors and insulin dosage work together to affect your
sugar levels. Based on this, it could help your doctor or nurse make
adjustments to your treatment plan.
Here are some changes that your doctor or nurse may suggest based on
looking at your data:
Adjustments in timing or units of insulin dosage
Adjustments to diet, by choosing healthier options or minimising
some less healthy options
Lifestyle adjustments such
as optimised sleep times, stress-reduction tactics or changes in
levels of activity
Your diabetes, your
If you are, for example, a person living with type 1 diabetes, using
your insulin dosing and sugar level records alongside a lifestyle
diary, could help explain how the few extra drinks you on your night
out, resulted in a drop in your sugar levels (a ‘hypo’) the following
day. Knowing this may help your doctor or nurse advise you on
fine-tuning your insulin dose and carbohydrate intake in the future to
avoid the same thing from happening again.
Or maybe you are living with type 2 diabetes. Do you miss doses, feel
demotivated or just simply overwhelmed with the task of managing your
diabetes? Discussing your diabetes records and emotional well-being
collaboratively with your doctor, could help pinpoint realistic ways
to help take better control of your unique situation.
Perhaps you are the carer of a younger person with diabetes who is
keen on sport. Athletes with diabetes have a high risk of developing
low sugar levels both during and after exercise. Therefore, having
accurate records of your young athlete’s insulin doses, sugar levels,
food intake and physical activity are key to helping balance their
food and insulin intake. This will help you manage how they maintain
their blood glucose levels throughout a workout or during a competition.
How to keep track?
Logging your diabetes data can be challenging, particularly for blood
glucose and insulin dosage data which might need to be captured
multiple times throughout each day. You may keep track the traditional
way, using pen and paper or by manually logging your numbers onto an
app or via an online tracker. But when life gets in the way, these
ways may let you down. If you forget to record your data and then try
to catch it up later you will surely not remember a few things.
Smart insulin pens help you keep track of injection time,
amount and type of insulin dosed each day, helping you have more
accurate and complete dosing information at hand.
Incomplete or inaccurate data limits the effective interpretation of
your numbers, making it hard for you and your doctor or nurse to work
out how to improve your diabetes management.
While there are a lot of data that you can track (and undoubtedly,
more data is better than less), the most important of these is your
insulin dosing as well as the time and units for every dose. This is
because, along with your sugar levels, knowing the exact timing and
amount of insulin dosed are important for your diabetes
care.2 Your insulin dosing is one of the things that you
can most accurately measure and manage, so keeping records of this can
be the first step in helping your diabetes care team understand how
various factors work together to affect your blood sugar control.
Automatically record insulin dosing with a smart insulin pen
Smart insulin pens take the hassle out of keeping track of your
insulin doses in your everyday life. Using a smart insulin pen,
provides a simple and reliable way to capture insulin dosing
information. It records the injection time, amount and type of each
insulin dose you have each day. These pens have a memory function to
keep a record of this information – up to 800 dose events can be
recorded. This removes any uncertainty you may have had about your
last injection and provide you with accurate dosing data, which you
can share with your doctor or nurse through an applicable app or using
your smart pen.
The information you share with your doctor or nurse helps them to
monitor and adjust your care; and to help you make the most of each appointment.
Read our Lifestyle
article to learn more about the little-known things that can affect
your sugar levels.
(Accessed November 2019).
Klonoff DC, Kerr D. Smart
Pens Will Improve Insulin Therapy. J Diabetes Sci Technol.
Edelman SV. Taking Control Of Your
Diabetes: An Innovative Approach to Improving Diabetes Care Through
Educating, Motivating, and Making the Connection Between
Patients and Health Care Providers. Clin Diabetes.
Schaeffer J. Fueled by Technology —
Athletes Achieve Top Performance With Diabetes Management Tools.
Today’s Dietitian 2010;12(8):22.
Freed S. New Smart
Pens Hoped to Change The Way We Treat Diabetes. Available at:
pens-hoped-to-change-the-way-we-treat-diabetes/. (Accessed November
Lifestyle factors driving sugar level highs and lows
Living a balanced lifestyle with a healthy diet and regular exercise is
a key part of diabetes management. But do you sometimes feel puzzled
when you’re doing all the right things, yet your sugar level still swings?