Discussing Diabetes and Insulin with Your Doctor
Insulin is often a difficult subject to talk about. But even with diet, exercise and oral diabetes medications, you may not be getting the blood sugar control that you should. If your current diabetes treatment plan isn't helping you achieve your blood sugar goals, it may be time to discuss insulin.
Talking Important Tips
How well you talk with your doctor is an important part of good healthcare. To find out if insulin could be the right choice for you, it may be necessary for you to start the discussion. To make sure you get the most out of a talk with your doctor, consider these tips:
- Ask your doctor to go over your A1C results with you. Show your doctor your blood sugar log. Are the numbers where you and your doctor want them to be?
- Express your concerns about taking insulin. Ask questions!
- Bring a list of all medications you are currently taking, including supplements and herbal products, as these may affect the way insulin or your current medications work.
- Create an Insulin Discussion Guide to take with you. Time with your doctor may be limited. A list is a good way to remember to ask all of your questions.
Your healthcare team can answer any questions you have. Speak openly and honestly about your diabetes treatment plan and your health and you and your doctor can decide if adding insulin to your overall diabetes treatment plan is right for you.
The A1C Test
Your doctor performs the A1C test to check your average blood sugar (glucose) levels. This blood test (also called an HbA1c test or Hemoglobin A1c) measures the amount of glucose attached to your red blood cells.
How the A1C Test Works
In your bloodstream, sugar attaches to your red blood cells. The more sugar in your blood and the longer the level remains high, the more sugar attaches to the red blood cells. The A1C test measures the amount of sugar. By doing this, it gives you an overall "snapshot" of how well your blood sugar control has been for the past 2-3 months.
Recommended A1C Levels
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests working toward a goal of an A1C level below 7%. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) encourages even tighter control. The AACE recommends a target A1C of less than or equal to 6.5%.
Why Are Your A1C Scores Important?
Keeping your levels under control over time may reduce the risk of developing long-term diabetes-related complications. Your doctor will work with you to decide what your goals should be.
According to a 2008 statement of consensus between the ADA and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, when A1C levels are above or equal to 7%, a change of treatment should be initiated with the goal of achieving an A1C level of less than 7%.
If your A1C levels are above 7%, it may be time to ask you doctor if insulin would be beneficial to you.
The A1C and Daily Checking
It's important to use both the A1C test and daily checking to track your blood sugar levels. These test results give you and your healthcare team an overall picture of your blood sugar control. And together they will help you and your doctor determine if your diabetes care plan is working well. Both these results are tools that can give you the information you need to make decisions about your treatment needs.
Blood Sugar Log
A blood sugar log lets you record your readings when you check your blood sugar. This gives your healthcare team a record to analyze so they can determine how well your blood sugar levels are being managed.
The template we provide lets you track your blood sugar levels for a week. At the top, write the target levels your healthcare team has given you. Be sure to include notes to explain high and low blood sugars. This information will be helpful to your healthcare team in evaluating your blood sugar management.
Insulin Discussion Guide
Is your current diabetes treatment plan helping you manage your blood sugar levels as well as you and your healthcare team would like? If not, adding insulin may help you reach your blood sugar goals. The first step is to talk with your doctor to find out if insulin may be right for you.
Using the Discussion Guide
Time with your doctor may be limited. So, a list is a good way to make sure that you remember to ask all your questions. To help you, use our Insulin Discussion Guide. It lets you choose the questions you want to ask your doctor. Select your questions, and then print out your personalized discussion guide to take with you on your next doctor's visit.
Important Safety Information for Insulin
Possible side effects may include blood sugar levels that are too low, injection site reactions, and allergic reactions, including itching and rash.
Tell your doctor about all other medicines and supplements you are taking because they could change the way insulin works. Glucose monitoring is
recommended for all patients with diabetes.
The health information contained herein is provided for general education purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the single best
source of information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your health or
If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor and call 1866GOINSULIN.
QUESTIONS ABOUT STARTING INSULIN
Is my A1C level higher than 7% (or the personal goal set by my
Have I done everything (healthy eating, exercise, oral diabetes
medications) that I can to reach my targeted A1C goal?
Why isn't it enough to take oral diabetes medications alone?
Would adding insulin to my diabetes treatment plan be right for me?
What insulin types might be right for me?
QUESTIONS ABOUT TAKING INSULIN
Which method (syringe, pump or pen) for taking insulin would be
best for me?
How will I learn to inject insulin and is it difficult?
What time of the day should I take insulin?
Do I need to eat before or after taking insulin?
How long does it take for insulin to start working?
Where should insulin be stored?
How often will I need to check my blood sugar levels?
What are my blood sugar goals?
CONCERNS ABOUT USING INSULIN
How will insulin affect my oral diabetes medications?
Will my other medications require me to adjust my insulin? (Be sure
to give your doctor a list of all your current medications)
Can insulin cause me to have low blood sugar?
Will I gain weight?
Will I have to change my lifestyle (hobbies, job, etc.) if I start taking
How will my meal planning be affected?
If I don't like insulin, can I stop taking it?
If you have questions not on the
list, be sure to write them in the