Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your body is unable to control the glucose or sugar levels in the blood. This could be due to insufficient insulin or the inability of your body to use it well. Fortunately, diabetes can be successfully managed with a personalized plan that includes physical exercises, diet control, regular checks, and watching out for related complications affecting your nerves, heart, eyes, kidney, and teeth.
Part of your diabetes management plan includes meeting a consultant, who’s a specialist in this area of medicine to help in maintaining your optimal health. Every person with diabetes should visit a doctor at least every three months. Regular checkups allow your doctor to track your condition and, if necessary, make changes in your treatment plan. But what should happen during those checkups?
What to Expect
There are different guidelines for what should happen on diagnosis, at each visit, every three months, and once a year.
- When you are diagnosed with diabetes
Your doctor should provide a pneumococcal vaccine for protection against pneumonia, unless you have already been vaccinated. This vaccination does not have to be renewed each year. When you turn 65, however, you should receive another vaccine if you haven’t had one in the last five years.
- At every subsequent visit
Your doctor may do the following during your subsequent visits after three months or annually:
- Check your weight.
- Measure your blood pressure.
- Carefully inspect your legs and feet (including between the toes) for sores.
- Ask about your medication use.
- Ask about your self-monitoring of blood sugar.
- Ask about frequency and severity of episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
- Ask about your use of tobacco and/or alcohol.
- Ask you about any lifestyle changes and discuss the consequences.
- Ask you about your exercise and eating habits.
- Answer questions about the disease and educate you about self-care.
- Check on any diabetic complications, including symptoms of nerve damage such as numbness.
- Talk to you about possible stress, depression, or other psychological issues.
- Follow up on anything suspicious from previous physical exams.
- Every three months
During a routine visit every three months, you can expect your doctor to perform the hemoglobin A1c test. This involves collecting a blood sample from you to measure the percentage of blood cells that are attached to molecules of sugar. If your blood sugar is under control, your doctor may perform this test only two times a year. Otherwise, A1c above 7 percent increases the risk of heart disease, blindness, kidney damage, and nerve damage, and your doctor may consider changing your medications or stepping up your self-care.
- At least once a year
During one of your visits every year, the doctor may conduct the following:
- A general physical exam
- A comprehensive exam of the feet
- A comprehensive exam of the eyes
- Assessment of urine for protein, which is a sign of kidney damage
- Record patient’s height as well as weight
- Measure levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood
- Provide an influenza vaccine