Things You Must Know to Manage Your Diabetes

Are You Receiving the Education You Need?

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Were you recently diagnosed with diabetes and put on medicine without being told how and when to take it? Or perhaps you have had diabetes for a long time and just started insulin, but no one taught you where to inject it or when? Or maybe you are someone who has been ruled to be "non-compliant" with your diabetes medicines and instead of asking you why you are not taking your medicine, medical staff just continue to add on more medicine, only to yield the same result?

If any of these situations sound familiar - first off, take a deep breath - you are not alone and you shouldn't give up. Fortunately, there are many treatment options when it comes to dealing with diabetes and, with the right education and training, you can be successful in getting to where you need to be.

Where do I obtain this information?

Diabetes is a complicated, time consuming disease that must be self managed on a daily basis. With so many things to think about - testing blood sugars, taking medicines, following up with specialists, adhering to a meal plan and exercising - it is nearly impossible to do everything right if you haven't been educated. Diabetes self management education is extremely important to successful daily life with diabetes. That's why it's so important to either attend classes or to meet with a Certified Diabetes Educator ("CDEs") one-on-one. Because CDEs specialize in the treatment and management of diabetes, they can help to find these missing links when it comes to optimizing treatment.

Another option for self education is reading. Continue to research the things of which you are unsure, and always make sure the source is credible and reliable.

Don't be afraid to ask questions:

Asking questions is the best way to get answers. Further, asking questions can prompt other questions and answers that can change a doctor's opinion or course of action.

Doctors are human and can make mistakes. If your physician is increasing your medicine or changing your medicine and has not explained why - ask. If you recently had blood work and are not sure what your numbers mean - ask. If you are not sure what medicines you are taking, what they do, and what their side effects are - ask. Most importantly, if you notice a change in how you feel - you feel shaky often, have headaches or feel leg cramps when walking - let your doctor know.

If you are not taking your medicines:

Doctors prescribe medications that they are confident work, and hopefully ones that your insurance policy covers. If you are not taking your medicines because you don't like the way they make you feel, you forget or because they are too expensive, it's important that you tell your doctor. While medications do have side effects, not taking medicines can result in worse side effects. If your doctor is unaware that you are not taking them, odds are they will continue to increase the dose.

A real problem can occur if, one day, you just start taking them. For example, let's say you are supposed to take 10 units of insulin, but you forget 5 times per week because you fall asleep. As a result, your blood sugars will always be high in the morning and your doctor will likely continue to increase your dose. One day, you decide you will set your alarm and take it daily, and now you are waking up every night at 3am with a low blood sugar - this is a dangerous situation. Letting your doctor know from the beginning may change her course of action - perhaps she would tell you to take your insulin in the morning instead so you don't forget or fall asleep.

Another example: Your doctor prescribed a medicine that is not covered by your insurance, so you decide not to take it. You could wind up in the Emergency Room because your blood sugars are extremely elevated. Simply calling the doctors office and letting them know about your insurance could have saved you a trip to the ER. The office staff can call your insurance provider and ask which medication is the preferred treatment option and have the doctor prescribe this instead. In a perfect world this would be done before prescribing, but unfortunately that doesn't always happen.

Bottom line: It's extremely important to ask questions and be honest with your physicians. These types of scenarios can result in valuable education lessons that can make a real impact in your care. 

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