People with diabetes face daily challenges. Knowledge is power when it comes to effective diabetes self-management. Make a list of questions to discuss with your health care provider. Have a plan and set goals one step at a time to make it easier to live with diabetes.

  1. What are the ABC’s of diabetes? Understanding the ABC’s of diabetes helps you ward off related health problems such as heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure. A is for the A1C tests that measures blood glucose levels over the past two to three months. Your goal should be under 7 percent. B Stands for blood pressure with a target goal of less than 130/80. C Stands for cholesterol. You want to keep your LDL or dangerous cholesterol less than 100 if you have no cardiac risks and less than 70 if you have cardiac risks. Know the results of these tests so you can work to stay within the healthy target range. LDL is the portion that increases your risk of heart disease and may require medication to reduce.
  2. When should I schedule routine medical visits? Find out when to schedule your next visit with your health care provider. Typically people with diabetes get a minimum of two checkups annually. Your physician will decide how often you require an A1C test which may be more often. Also inquire about making appointments with other related specialists such as an ophthalmologist, podiatrist, dentist and nutritionist. Often people with diabetes visit a health care team to monitor various aspects of their well-being such as vision, periodontal health, foot care and diet. Make regular appointments according to the schedule determined by your primary health care provider. Think about a diabetes education course.
  3. What are my blood sugar goals? Find out how and when you should check your blood sugar. Learn about how to use a glucose meter properly to test your blood sugar at home and on the road. Ask what to do if you experience high or low blood sugar symptoms. Inquire about your blood sugar goals and what they should be. Discuss your treatment plan and what you can do to avoid fluctuating blood glucose levels. Carry glucose tablets for low readings.
  4. What are my diet and exercise goals? People with diabetes are advised to shed pounds if they are overweight. This minimizes the possibility of related health problems. Ask about your diet and exercise goals. Find out the right foods to eat and which ones to stay away from. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins increase energy and reduce blood sugar fluctuations. Ask about exercise and how to get started. Exercising for a half hour a day at least five times a week improves circulation, blood sugar readings and overall well-being. Over time, proper nutrition and exercise can reduce the symptoms of diabetes and give you better control.
  5. How do I take my medications? Make a list of the medications you need to take. Ask about dosage and contraindications. Find out how to correctly administer all your medications. Always bring a list of medications and your blood glucose log to all health care appointments. If medications are not working or if you are experiencing side effects then discuss it with your health care provider. Regular testing is done to make sure blood glucose and A1C levels are within your target ranges. Your doctor might change your medication or certain dosages. Revise your master list of medications immediately to reflect these updates. Store them on the computer.

These five simple questions help you understand and manage diabetes better. When you know what to do and how to handle changes, you are ready for anything. Living with diabetes is easier when you communicate about it with your health care provider.