Self Management of Diabetes

Blood glucose testing meter and finger lanceDiabetes is a disease, which the person who has it (or their carer) has to manage themself each day. Successful self-management requires not only motivation and attention to detail, but knowledge. It doesn’t matter how hard you try if you do not know the rules. Your contact with health care professional is very important and is your opportunity to find out these facts. Because your time with them may be limited, you need to understand what your targets are, whether you are achieving those targets, and if not what the plan is to get you to target.  Your meeting with your health care workers will also identify whether you currently have or are at risk of diabetes complications. Where this is the case, you again need find out who each of these problems will be managed. We know from studies of people with diabetes that if the average blood glucose low so that the HbA1c is less than 7%, whose blood pressure is less than 135/75, and who have raised cholesterol treated with cholesterol lowering medication have fewer diabetic complications and cardiovascular disease and strokes (and also live longer!). You need to know your numbers when you are reviewed at the clinic.

Blood Test Results

Your glucated haemoglobin (the HbA1c) should be checked 2-3 times per year and should be below 7% unless there are specific reasons for it to be higher (such as night hypos or hypo-unawareness). The function of the kidneys should be assessed at least yearly with measurements of the urine protein content either by dipsticks or by a timed urine collection, and the blood concentrations of urea and creatinine tested.  The fat content of the blood also needs to be tested yearly with total cholesterol and Triglycerides.  Get these tests done before you meet your health care worker so that you can discuss the results sensibly.