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Collaboration with your diabetes team

With diabetes there are often important choices to make and many things to remember. This is why every consultation with your diabetes team 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 glucose levels and target number
  • Timing, amount and type of medication (pills or injections)
  • Blood pressure and blood cholesterol
  • Risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease or stroke
  • Diet and weight management
  • Exercise and physical activity levels
  • Lifestyle factors

Discussions of many of these topics will be more fruitful if you come to your consultation armed with detailed logs of your insulin dosing, glucose 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 diabetes team, who will find this information invaluable in helping you optimise your treatment plan.

Your diabetes, your numbers

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 glucose level for the previous 2-3 months and is useful in providing an overall idea of how your treatment plan is working.

Having accurate and complete data about your diabetes to discuss with your diabetes team is key to tailoring your treatment to your unique lifestyle.

What it does not do, however, is allow you and your diabetes team to pinpoint daily fluctuations in your glucose levels and what might trigger them.

The value of historical numbers

It is highly likely that your diabetes team 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 glucose levels and medication usage (tablets or injection); 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 diabetes team during your consultation, they could help shed light on how your diet, lifestyle factors and medication work together to affect your glucose levels. Based on this, it could help your diabetes team make adjustments to your treatment plan.

Here are some changes that your diabetes team may suggest based on looking at your data:

 

  • Adjustments to your medication
  • 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 unique situation

If you are, a person living with type 1 diabetes, using your insulin dosing and glucose 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 glucose levels (a ‘hypo’) the following day. Knowing this may help your diabetes team 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 diabetes team, 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 glucose levels both during and after exercise. Therefore, having accurate records of your young athlete’s insulin doses, glucose 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.

References
  1. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/prevention--treatment-of-diabetes/work-with-your-health-care-team     (Accessed November 2019).
  2. 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. 2017;35(5):333–339.
  3. Schaeffer J. Fueled by Technology — Athletes Achieve Top Performance With Diabetes Management Tools. Today’s Dietitian     2010;12(8):22.

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