How often you should return to your diabetes doctor depends on many things. If you take insulin for your diabetes or if you're having trouble managing your glucose levels, you should see your doctor at least four times a year. Otherwise, you should see your doctor two to four times a year.
You may need to visit your doctor more often if you have complications or if you are starting a new medicine or insulin program. Your doctor will advise you about when to return. He or she should also tell you other times to call or come back. For example, your doctor may want you to call if you've had nausea or vomiting that make you unable to eat, or if you've had a fever for more than a day. You will need to stay in touch with your doctor by phone every week or even every day if you are making big changes in your diabetes care plan.
When you return, expect the doctor and other members of your health care team to give you a physical examination, take a medical history, run laboratory tests, and fine-tune your treatment program. These later visits are not as in-depth as your first visit, although you should get a complete physical examination once a year. Also, your doctor may order new tests, do other examinations, or refer you to a specialist depending on test results and your needs.
This checklist will help you make sure your health care team does a good job at your follow-up visits. They should:
- ask about times you've had high or low blood glucose levels
- ask to see your blood glucose records
- ask what adjustments you've made to your diabetes care plan
- ask what problems you've had in following your diabetes care plan
- ask about symptoms that might indicate you are getting a diabetes complication
- ask what other illnesses you had since your last visit
- ask what medicines you are taking now
- ask if your life has changed in any way
- measure your weight and blood pressure
- look in your eyes
- look at your feet
- take blood for glycated hemoglobin measurement
- once a year, take a urine sample to look for protein and take blood for cholesterol and blood fat tests
- review your treatment plan to measure your progress in meeting goals and see where you are having problems
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