The health checkup for Type 1 diabetes

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When you’re living with Type 1 diabetes, a thorough medical checkup is important for the proper management and balance of your diabetes. 

For some people, these series of checkups are a source of apprehension and a lot of questions pop into their head: 

Which specialists should I consult? How often? Are my results good? If they are not good, should I lie?. Take a deep breath, here are a few tips to prepare for these consultations and prepare yourself mentally!

Let’s go for a routine checkup 

Who? Endocrinologist, diabetologist or general practitioner / internist

How often? Between once a quarter and once a year 

Your endocrinologist, diabetologist and/or general practitioner is the person who has the most comprehensive view of your diabetes care. At each consultation, they will check several things:

  • Your glucose levels (your ambulatory glucose profile if you wear a continuous glucose monitoring device (CGM) or the results recorded on your capillary glucose meter) ;
  • The insulin doses you are giving yourself; 
  • Your weight;
  • Your blood pressure;
  • The condition of your feet (checking sensitivity and infections). 

Together, you can also set goals. For example, spending a certain amount of time in your glucose target range. 

Your doctor will prescribe your insulin, diabetes management devices, and the following lab tests:

  • Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), to be done every 3 months; 
  • Lipid balance or triglyceride and cholesterol levels. This analysis allows the detection of risk for cardiovascular complications, to be done once a year.

Normally, a urine test is also requested to check creatinine and microalbuminuria to verify that there is no kidney damage caused by Type 1 diabetes. It is recommended once a year or every two/three years depending on your glucose control. 

To prepare for this consultation, bring your latest test results with you. Your doctor will help you adjust your treatment accordingly. Also remember to bring your glucose results for the last few months. Some doctors follow the glucose results of their T1D patients remotely (by email, data sharing, etc.).

Don’t censor yourself, ask all of your questions! Don’t hesitate to bring your notepad so you don’t forget anything. Questions may include adjusting your treatment, trying a new technology, changing devices, how to adapt in certain situations, etc.  

As much as possible, try not to hide anything from your doctor, especially if your results are not where you want them to be 😂 They will be the best person to help you get back on track. 

It’s important to have a good relationship with your doctor. You need to feel confident and comfortable. If this is not the case, don’t hesitate to seek another provider. 

The apple of your eye 

Who? Ophthalmologist 

How often? Once a year

This consultation is necessary for screening for diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina) by means of a fundus (or retinography).

The orthoptist can also perform this examination. 

Say cheese!

Who? Dentist 

How often? 2 times a year

Type 1 diabetes can have a harmful effect on the gums. The risks of gingivitis and periodontitis are greater when living with diabetes. A cleaning every 6 months is strongly advised to maintain good oral hygiene. 

 +1 for you ladies… 

Who? Gynecologist

How often? Once a year

The gynecological examination is fundamental, especially when living with Type 1 diabetes. Whether for contraception or for a pregnancy, diabetes must be considered.

Certain hormonal contraceptives affect blood sugar levels. It may take a little time for some people to find the most appropriate method of birth control. 

Regarding pregnancy, women living with Type 1 diabetes are strongly encouraged to discuss with their gynecologist and/or diabetologist before conceiving a child. 

Diabetes can sometimes lead to certain complications. Pregnancy must be carefully monitored, but that’s just like any other pregnant woman! ☺

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