4 questions to ask your doctor about diabetes
A diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes is significant’and it’s vital that you learn to take care of your overall health. Here are questions to ask your healthcare provider so you’re in the driver’s seat
Take ownership of your health
If you've been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, it's easy to feel powerless. But the key to living well in the long term and to get the best care possible is to take control of the disease, says Vernon, B.C.-based physician Dr. Maureen Clement, chair of the Clinical & Scientific Section of the Canadian Diabetes Association. "People should be informed as much as they can and be empowered," she says. "They should feel confident that they can manage whatever part they have in their care."
Most important? A good relationship with your healthcare team, so that you're all working efficiently toward a common goal: your best health. And they can't do their jobs without you doing yours: preparing for appointments and asking questions. "It's hard to know how to treat a person with diabetes without all the information," says Dr. Clement. "It's not a passive interaction."
Ready to take ownership of your health? Here are some questions to ask your doctor and healthcare team so they can help you stay your healthiest.
Where can I learn more about diabetes?
The Canadian Diabetes Association's website is a good place to start, but it's not the only resource out there-though some are more credible than others. "It's important to go to a reasonable source," says Dr. Clement. "Diabetes is a very big money maker for a lot of fringe treatments-you have to be a savvy consumer when it comes to reading about the latest cure." Ask your healthcare team about books, websites or other resources they recommend.
What should I focus on first?
Self-management is extremely important with diabetes-your daily decisions can have a huge impact on the progression of the disease. But it can be overwhelming-and unrealistic-to change everything at once. "People need to analyze how their lives and diabetes intersect," says Dr. Clement. Then ask your healthcare provider where to start in improving your lifestyle.
What tools are available to help me stay organized?
Blood tests at home, blood tests at the clinic, food and exercise diaries-there's a lot to keep track of, and these days, there are numerous options to help you stay on top of things. Know your preferences-paper or smartphone, for instance-and ask for recommendations on the best fit for you, whether it's an app or a notebook.
How can I prevent disease progression?
One-third of patients diagnosed with prediabetes will have full-blown diabetes within five years, Dr. Clement says. And since the most serious complication for those with prediabetes is heart disease, you need to know about your risk factors-which includes smoking. As for people already diagnosed with diabetes, good self-care will keep the disease-and its complications-from getting worse. Ask your healthcare team for advice on your personal situation, and remember that you control your lifestyle, and that appointments with your healthcare team are all for you. "What's sometimes forgotten is that the interaction is for the patient, not the healthcare team," says Dr. Clement. "People with diabetes often say, 'You'll be mad at me, I didn't do this.' But they're not there to please the healthcare provider-they should be there for themselves."