If you have diabetes, you know that you have to take charge of your own health. Although it isn’t always easy, only you have the power to control what you eat, how much you exercise, and how often you test your blood glucose levels.
But you aren’t alone. Your doctor plays an important role by working with you to develop an effective treatment plan. Your plan may need to change from time to time, so it’s essential that your doctor has the information needed to make decisions that are right for you.
Detecting Patterns in Blood Glucose
To make sure your treatment plan is working, it’s important to track your blood glucose numbers to ensure they’re in the target range. Self-testing at regular times, such as before and after meals, and at bedtime, is an effective way to track. It gives you a snapshot of your levels at the time you test. Recording these numbers daily allows you to review them for trends, such as when your glucose is typically high. This information can help your doctor understand how your diabetes plan is working, and if there are ways to improve your glucose with diet, exercise, or other activities.
Tracking Average Levels
In addition to regular self-testing, ask your doctor for an A1C test at least twice a year. You may need testing more often if your results are too high or your treatment plan changes.
An A1C test measures your average blood glucose level during the last two to three months. This provides a good picture of whether your blood glucose stayed close to your target range. It can also help your health care team decide if you need to change your medication. For most people with diabetes, the target range should be less than 7%, but your personal A1C goal might be higher or lower.
If your A1C test result is high, your doctor may suggest a number of changes to your treatment plan. This may include adjusting the dosage of your medication, adding another type of pill, changing the type of drug, or starting insulin or another type of injected medication.
Understanding the Reasons for Change
If your blood glucose levels are too high, don’t get upset. For reasons experts don’t fully understand, your diabetes medication may stop working after months, or even years, of taking it. This doesn’t mean your diabetes is getting worse. It may just mean you need a different combination of drugs or insulin to keep your levels under control.
Keep in mind, everyone is different. There is no “best” pill or treatment plan for type 2 diabetes. You may need to try more than one type of pill or combination of pills, or insulin, to find what works best for you.
Responding to Life Events
Sometimes you need to change your treatment plan — even if it’s working well — because of life events. For instance, if you become pregnant, you can’t safely take oral diabetes pills. As a result, you must control your diabetes with diet and exercise or insulin. For a healthy pregnancy and baby, talk with your doctor before getting pregnant to make changes to your treatment plan. If you are already pregnant, see your doctor right away.
Seeking Effective Treatment
It’s important to stay on top of your care plan, check your blood glucose levels, and talk with your doctor if you believe you need a change to your treatment plan. If your diabetes isn’t under control, you are at greater risk for serious complications, such as eye, kidney, nerve, and heart problems. By working with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works well for you, you can feel better now — and stay healthier in the future.
- If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor will work with you to make sure your treatment plan remains effective. Self-testing your blood glucose levels at regular times is a key part of this effort.
- You should have an A1C test at least twice a year. This test measures your average blood glucose level during the last two to three months, and can help your doctor decide if your treatment plan needs to be adjusted.
- Your treatment plan might need to change because your medication has stopped working, or because of a life event such as a pregnancy. It’s important to talk with your doctor if you think your treatment plan needs to change.