Developed from information provided by the Diabetes Treatment Centers of America
When you have diabetes, it is important that you get good medical care. It's now crystal clear that high glucose levels play a role in many complications, thus your doctor's skill is more vital than ever. Good care helps you live a full life and have as few complications as possible.
But what is good care? The American Diabetes Association writes standards of medical care for people with diabetes. These guidelines give doctors the most up-to-date information on caring for their patients with diabetes.
The Team Approach
You should be receiving your diabetes care from a team put together by your doctor. Diabetes is complicated. Your doctor alone cannot be an expert in every area.
For this reason, your diabetes care team probably includes an eye doctor, nurses, and a dietitian. Depending on what complications you have, your doctor may send you to other specialists, such as a Podiatrist (foot doctor), Nephrologist (kidney doctor), Ophthalmologist (eye doctor) and Cardiologist (heart doctor).
Too-high level of glucose (“sugar”) in the blood is the main feature of all forms of diabetes. The main goal of diabetes treatment is to bring glucose levels down as close to normal as is safely possible.
How far down? Suggested goals are less than 140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) before meals and under 160 mg/dl at bedtime. Most aspects of your treatment plan — measuring your glucose levels, taking diabetes pills or insulin shots, exercising, losing weight, eating a planned diet — are aimed at helping you achieve your target glucose level. The best test for diabetes control is the “Glyco-hemoglobin” or “Hemoglobin A1c” (see table below).
Your target A1c is below 7.0.
High glucose levels can affect many parts of the body. They can lead to diabetic eye disease, nerve disease, and kidney disease. High glucose levels also make it easier to get infections. They can blur your vision or make you feel tired or thirsty all the time. People with diabetes also are more likely to get other health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and heart disease.
As you can see, keeping your glucose levels under control is vital to your future health and happiness. Your doctor can advise you on ways to reach this goal. But much rests on your shoulders. For this reason, your treatment team should spend a lot of time teaching you about diabetes and how to make diabetes care part of your life. To work well, the plan must be adapted to your own life. For example, it needs to take into account your work or school schedule, how active you are, what and when you like to eat, your cultural background, and what other medical problems you have.
You need to be involved in devising your diabetes care plan. Otherwise, it's unlikely that the plan will fit into your life or that you will understand what you need to do. Your doctor will advise you about when to return for follow-up visits. These later visits are to fine-tune your treatment program and are not as in-depth as your first visit, although you should get a complete physical exam once a year.
The following table summarizes the comprehensive approach now being taken to better manage people with diabetes. Attention to each and every one of these parameters will lessen the risk of developing complications in the future.