- Remember to schedule regular appointments with your physician.
- Report any new symptoms, including mood changes as depression, occurs at a higher rate in people with diabetes.
- Meet regularly with your diabetes healthcare team as they can teach you how best to take your insulin or pills, and monitor your blood glucose levels.
- Keep an updated medication list that includes all your prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies, natural products, eye drops, patches, creams or any other remedies you may use.
- Make and keep appointments with your dietitian, an important member of the diabetes healthcare team.
- A dietitian can help you develop a meal plan that accommodates your lifestyle and is flexible, while respecting your ethnic background and religious requirements.
- Keep a logbook of your blood glucose levels and medications, and review the results regularly with your healthcare professional.
- If you are sick, as with a cold or flu, it’s important that you continue to take your diabetes medications as prescribed. Also, check your blood glucose levels more frequently when you’re ill.
Diabetes medications work best when they’re taken exactly as prescribed. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator these important questions:
- How often and when do I need to take my pills and/or insulin?
- Do I take my medications with meals? If so, do I take them right before each meal or at a certain time after each meal? (These are particularly significant questions because some diabetes medications are specifically designed to work between or after meals.)
- When should I expect to see a reduction in my blood glucose levels?
- What should I do if I miss a dose of my medication?
- Should I expect any side effects? If so, is there anything I can do to reduce them?
- Do these medications cause hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels)? If so, how do I recognize, prevent, and treat hypoglycemia?
- How should I store these medications?
- Are there generic versions that might cost less?
- Will these medications interact with other (nondiabetes) prescription medications that I’m taking?
- Will they interact with herbal remedies or over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup?
- Can I safely drink alcohol while taking these medications?
- If I become pregnant, could these medications be dangerous to my baby? If so, what are my options for birth control?
You may need to try several combinations of medications at different dosages to find what works best for you. Speak with your doctor or diabetes educator if you’re having trouble remembering to take your medications or if you’re bothered by side effects. Medications will only work if you take them, and your doctor and diabetes educator can help you find the simplest, most effective treatment.
Life can be hectic, and staying on top of your medication schedule requires special attention. Here are a few ideas that might help:
- Make sure you understand each the medication you’re taking and why you’re taking it. If you’re not certain, ask your doctor or diabetes educator to explain.
- Find out what side effects might be associated with your drugs, and which symptoms should be reported.
- Never stop taking a prescribed medication without checking with your healthcare provider, even if you don’t feel any effect from it. Many drugs, especially blood pressure or cholesterol pills, make a difference you usually can’t detect.
- Deal with one pharmacy for all your medications, and be sure to talk to your pharmacist before taking any drugs, including over-the-counter (non-prescription) and herbal products. This will help prevent medication-related problems, such as drug interactions, and lead to a closer relationship with your pharmacist – an accessible and valuable healthcare resource.
Know Your ABCs
A1C: 7% or lower. (Some people with diabetes aim for 6% or lower, but this should be your target only if you and your doctor feel you can achieve it safely)
Blood pressure: 130/80 mmHg or lower
Cholesterol: LDL lower than 2.5 mmol/L