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Questions about new diabetes treatment: What to ask your doctor

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, so you or your family member may have to change treatment. Have doubts about the new diabetes treatment? So, ask the right questions about the new diabetes treatment.

Diabetes mellitus, also called diabetes, is a chronic disease. It occurs when a person’s pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or when the insulin is not effectively used. Insulin is important, as it regulates blood glucose. If you experience raised blood glucose or blood sugar, it can lead to serious damage to your nerves and blood vessels. There are three main types of diabetes, and type 2 is the most common. Treating type 2 diabetes usually involves lifestyle changes and medications, and sometimes people are told to change their diabetes treatment. If you or your family member start a new diabetes treatment, make sure to ask the right questions from the doctor. Let us tell you what to ask the doctor about a new diabetes treatment.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a long-term condition where the body can’t use blood sugar properly. This is much more common and different from type 1 diabetes, where the body makes little or no insulin, says endocrinologist Dr Pranav A Ghody.
More than 95 percent of diabetics have type 2 diabetes, according to the World Health Organization.

New diabetes treatment
Type 2 is a common type of diabetes. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

One of the main issues in type 2 diabetes involves insulin resistance. This means the body’s cells don’t respond well to insulin, which is a hormone that helps control blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes can be caused by genetics, and extra weight, especially around the belly, can lead to insulin resistance. Consuming sugar-sweetened beverages and excess sugary or carbohydrate rich and processed foods can also increase the risk, says Dr Ghody.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Feeling thirsty and needing to pee frequently
  • Losing weight without even trying
  • Feeling very tired
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts that don’t heal quickly
  • Dark patches of skin, usually in the armpits and neck

But not everybody gets these symptoms. Some people may not get any symptoms if the sugar levels have been slowly increasing or until the sugar levels are very high, says the expert. That is why routine check-ups are important.

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What are the treatment options for type 2 diabetes?

Lifestyle changes and medications go hand in hand when it comes to type 2 diabetes.

  1. Lifestyle changes

These are recommended for everyone diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The doctor will tell you or family member to eat a healthy diet (consisting of less carbohydrates, more vegetables, and adequate amounts of protein), exercise regularly, and lose weight, especially if you or your loved one is overweight or obese.

2. Oral medications

Since diabetes affects multiple organs, medicines which target organs (liver, muscle, pancreas, kidney, intestines) are often required. Pills like metformin, sulfonylureas, and DPP-4 inhibitors help lower blood sugar, says the expert.

3. Insulin therapy

Some people may need insulin injections if pills are not enough, especially if their pancreas are not producing enough insulin. Other injectable medications like GLP-1 receptor agonists which are not insulin also help control blood sugar.

When to change type 2 diabetes medication?

This type of diabetes is a progressive disease, which means over time the condition tends to worsen in most people. You or your loved one might need to change medication if:

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  • Blood sugar is still high despite the current treatment.
  • Develop new health problems such as kidney disease, heart problems, and stroke.
  • Changes in weight or activity level make the current medication less effective.
  • Diabetes gets worse and needs stronger treatment or insulin.

Questions to ask the doctor after starting new diabetes treatment

Here’s what to ask the diabetes doctor about the new treatment:

1. What are the expected benefits of this new medication?

Knowing what the medicine is supposed to do helps you understand what to expect. It clarifies how it should help control your blood sugar, reduce symptoms, and prevent complications, which can keep you motivated to stick with the treatment.

2. What are the potential side effects, and how can I manage them?

Every medicine can have side effects. Knowing what they are helps you recognise them early and deal with them quickly. This prevents minor issues from becoming major problems and helps you decide if the medicine is right for you.

New diabetes medicines on wooden floor
You should ask diabetes doctor about side effects of new treatment. Image courtesy: Freepik

3. How will this medicine interact with my other medicines?

Some medicines can affect how others work. Understanding potential interactions helps prevent negative effects and ensures that all your medicines work well together, especially if you’re taking multiple drugs.

4. Can this medicine make my blood sugar too low?

Some medicines such as sulfonylureas and insulin can make your blood sugar too low by themselves or when used with other medicines. Knowing this can ensure you watch out for symptoms of low blood sugar and treat early, says the expert.

5. How and when should I take this medicine?

Taking medicine the right way is crucial for it to work well. Knowing the correct dose, timing, and whether to take it with food helps keep your blood sugar levels stable and ensures you get the full benefit from the medicine.

6. What to do if I miss a dose?

Missing a dose can happen, and knowing what to do helps maintain control over your blood sugar. Your doctor can tell you if you should take it as soon as you remember, skip it, or adjust your next dose.

7. Do I need to monitor my blood sugar at home when I start this new medicine?

Regular blood sugar checks are important to see how well the medicine is working and to make any needed changes. Knowing how often to monitor and what to expect ensures that problems are caught early and addressed quickly.

8. How do I store this medicine?

Some medicines especially insulin and GLP-1 agonist injections need to be stored at a specific temperature to ensure it works correctly. Knowing this helps plan activities such as eating in a restaurant or travel.

9. What symptoms should prompt me to contact you?

Recognising early signs of problems allows you to get help quickly and prevent serious issues. This knowledge helps you take control of your health and ensures you get timely care when needed.

10. Are there any new advancements in diabetes treatment that might be suitable for me?

Diabetes treatments are always improving and evolving. Knowing about new options can help you manage your diabetes more effectively. Discussing these with your doctor can help you decide if any new treatments might be right for you.

Type 2 diabetes is common, and there are many treatment options. If diabetes gets worse or you or your family member experience side effects, the doctor may tell you to change the medication. But make sure to ask the right questions regarding the new diabetes treatment.

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