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
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,
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
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.
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 this type of data for your diabetes team during your
consultation, they could help advise 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, should that be required.
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
Lifestyle adjustments such as optimised
sleep times, stress-reduction tactics or changes in levels of
Your diabetes, your
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 drink that you had 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. For more information on
alcohol guidelines, click here.
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.
(Accessed November 2019).
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.
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?
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