Visiting Doctor for Regular Testing and More

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your life is about to change. In addition to visiting your doctor for regular testing, your diet will change, your schedule will change, and many more parts of your life will undergo transformations.

Checkups with Your Doctor

As a patient recently diagnosed with diabetes, your fist goal is to find doctor you can trust to manage your care. As a diabetic, you will have a health care team that includes your main physician, an eye doctor, a nutritionist, and other health professionals. But, the main member of your healthcare team is the doctor you see for regular checkups and the doctor who manages your overall care. This doctor should be knowledgeable about diabetes, educated in the latest treatment methods, and have an excellent bedside manner. One key to a good doctor is one who will spend time to talk to you about your worries and treatment. A doctor who is rushed or too busy to explain your treatment is not a good choice.

Visiting your doctor for regular checkups is important, generally every 3-6 months, but it can be more frequent when you first start recieving treatment. It allows you to monitor your diabetes and discover early if any complications have occurred. At each visit, your doctor will run several tests to check your general health and to see how you are managing your blood glucose.[1]

When you first arrive, your blood pressure will be checked by a nurse. If your blood pressure is high it can be a sign of several complications in diabetic patients. Your doctor will perform an HbA1c test to check for blood glucose levels, a test for cholesterol, a test for kidney function, and other tests.

In addition to regular checkups with your primary diabetic doctor, you will want to schedule regular doctor visits with other professionals who are on your health care team. You must have an eye exam each year to check for eye problems associated with diabetes. Retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular edema can be caught in the early stages when you visit your eye doctor every year for a checkup. If you skip these visits your diabetes can lead to eye complications that sometimes end in blindness.

Many diabetics skip their yearly eye exam because they think they are having no problems. This can be a huge mistake. When eye problems are caught early they can be treated and hopefully vision can be saved.

Your podiatrist is another doctor you should see every year. Diabetics can have serious problems with their feet. These sometimes lead to foot amputations and leg amputations. A regular visit with your podiatrist can catch problems early and help avid drastic problems.

When you see your podiatrist he or she will check for foot ulcers and foot sores. You may be asked about any foot pain you are experiencing. You should let the doctor know if you have been having swelling at the feet or redness. The doctor will check calluses and even blood flow.  Your podiatrist can educate you on correct foot care to keep you from experiencing extreme foot disorders.

Planning for Your Care

Visiting your doctor for regular testing is a little more complicated than for a person who is not a diabetic. Now that you know why you need to be tested frequently and why you need to see various doctors you can create a plan to ensure you get the best care.

Keep in mind that even with the best diabetic care, you are ultimately in charge. Here is a short list to help you make your diabetic care plan:

  • Keep a diabetic journal, listing your glucose readings
  • Keep a list of a medicines you take, the amount you take, and when you take them
  • Names and addresses and phone numbers of all doctors involved in your care: primary doctor, foot doctor, eye doctor, nutritionist
  • Questions for your doctor
  • Concerns about new conditions that have come up since your last visit

Your Primary Diabetes Doctor

When you visit your primary diabetes doctor, it is very similar to a yearly physical. A nurse will update your physical and medical history and your doctor will give you a complete physical exam.

What is different for a diabetic are the tests run by the doctor to check for blood glucose levels and other diabetic health. You will give blood samples and urine samples so the doctor can determine your blood sugar and your average blood sugar over the past three months – the glycated hemoglobin level.

Tests will also be run on fat and cholesterol, as previously mentioned. Proteins in your urine will be checked. Studies show that when patients and doctors agree on their care there is more success of self management.[2]

What exactly can you expect when you go for your visits and testing? Let’s look at some tips to prepare you when visiting your doctor for regular testing and checkups:[3]

  • Check height, weight, blood pressure, pulse
  • Check eyes
  • Check mouth for dental problems
  • Check thyroid gland, (manual test on neck)
  • Manual tests on organs such as liver
  • Check fingers, finger tips, hands
  • Check heart, lungs
  • Manually check feet for sensation and pulse
  • Look at skin
  • Look at injection sites
  • Test reflexes
  • Blood samples
  • Urine samples
  • Discuss nutrition
  • Discuss weight
  • Discuss past lab tests
  • Discuss exercise regimen
  • Discuss recent blood sugar highs and lows
  • Discuss recent infections
  • Discuss complications due to diabetes or otherwise
  • Discuss medicines
  • Discus any other questions you may have

As you can see, the list is long and sometimes parts of the visit go quickly. It is very important that you bring your diabetic journals with your to your doctor visit and ask all of the questions you have noted. There are many symptoms of serious conditions you may have noted that your doctor could miss.

Visiting your doctor for regular testing is a part of self management. It is important to keep all scheduled appointments and call for an appointment at the sign of any problem.

References

[1]  Diabetes Tests and Checkups. (n.d.). Retrieved from Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000082.htm

[2]  Heisleer, M. (2003). When Do PAtients and Their Physicians Agree on Diabetes Treatment Goals and Strategies. Journal of General Internal MEdicine , 893-902.

[3]  Your First Visit. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/who-is-on-your-healthcare-team/your-first-visit.html

This article was originally published July 12, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/10/2015.