You Can Self-Monitor for Type 2 Diabetes
While there are many outward warning signs for type 2 diabetes, these warning signs are really the result of having spent an extensive period of time with high blood glucose. They are the markers of uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. If we are aware that we are a high risk candidate for developing type 2 diabetes, we don’t have to wait until we’re showing outward signs of the condition in order to help monitor for it. In a world where so few patients are being properly diagnosed, reducing their chances of being able to avoid complications from the condition – what is a patient to do? Live as if you already had pre-diabetes.
- Don’t panic: It’s easy to get carried away with the wealth of knowledge and information that’s out there regarding the condition. Instead, share your concerns with your medical team, and ask to get regular check-ups. If they are not very cooperative, or are dismissive of your worries, find a different medical team. This is important because once we’re diagnosed – we need people who actually care about working with us, and any potential issues.
- Be proactive with your knowledge: Learn about type 2 diabetes, and what a healthy glucose level means. Some doctors might be dismissive of a blood glucose result if it does not fit their stereotype – ie, the blood glucose level is not higher than 200 mg/dL. This is misguided: any fasting blood glucose level (one at which a patient has not consumed any foods or liquids for more than 12 hours) that is higher than 100 mg/dL is a cause for concern (it might likely be pre-diabetes); any blood glucose level that is higher than 126 mg/dL is considered to likely be type 2 diabetes. This is a much lower number than 200! Any blood glucose level higher than 140 mg/dL two hours after having consumed a meal is cause for a concern; any blood glucose level higher than 200 mg/dL at ANY point in time is considered likely to be type 2 diabetes. Just because a person with diabetes might be instructed that they may keep a blood glucose level under 180 mg/dL does NOT necessarily mean that any the level below this is normal. If your blood glucose levels have regularly started to fall within the ‘cause for concern’ range, ask your doctor for a glucose tolerance test. If your doctor is not receptive to this, find a different one.
- Monitor yourself at home: Consider purchasing a meter and testing strips to monitor yourself at home, regularly – especially if you have pre-diabetes or if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Kits for testing are often expensive, and often a medical team may refuse to prescribe strips due to insurance company pressures and stereotypes that type 2 diabetes is not an immediately serious health condition. But a patient does not have to conform to that – certain big box stores have affordable options which may run around $25 for a box of 50 strips, including the cost of the meter. A patient may use these to test fasting blood glucose levels, or learn how their body is reacting to meals, which is the main source of glucose (or fuel). While there might not be a need to test daily, a patient might use these to test a few times a month, for example, in order to assess if their body is still processing glucose effectively. Always keep in mind that testing strips do have a shelf life, and a date of expiry.
- Monitor your overall health: Make regular dental, vision and podiatry appointments. Many of the complications a patient with diabetes experiences are related to peripheral care – such as dental, vision and foot care. Keeping on top of our dental hygiene and our vision health will not only help catch complications on time, but it will also enlist extra specialists who are able to catch and diagnose type 2 diabetes at its onset. In addition, if we start having any ailments or issues with our feet, it’s a very good idea to start visiting with a podiatrist. Podiatrists may help catch circulation problems, and help a patient avoid and treat any ulcers and lacerations.
Our medical team is a great source of knowledge and guidance. The best results are achieved with a caring, concerned medical team and a patient who is willing to be an invested copilot in their own self care.