decorational arrow Lifestyle factors | 4 min. read

Collaboration with your doctor or nurse

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
  • 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, 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 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 sugar 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 doctor or nurse is key to tailoring your insulin treatment to your unique lifestyle.

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 unique situation

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. 

Keeping records of your glucose levels and insulin dosing may provide useful insights when managing your diabetes – as each person has a unique situation and set of challenges. 

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.

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. Klonoff DC, Kerr D. Smart Pens Will Improve Insulin Therapy. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2018;12(3):551-553.
  3. 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.
  4. Schaeffer J. Fueled by Technology — Athletes Achieve Top Performance With Diabetes Management Tools. Today’s Dietitian     2010;12(8):22.
  5. Freed S. New Smart Pens Hoped to Change The Way We Treat Diabetes. Available at: http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/new-smart-    pens-hoped-to-change-the-way-we-treat-diabetes/. (Accessed November 2019).

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