When you're diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you'll be invited to attend the diabetic clinic at your medical centre a few times a year. Keeping your clinic appointments ensure your diabetes remains well managed, allows early detection of common complications of diabetes and gives you the opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns. Here's an overview of what you can expect during your clinic appointments:
Your diabetic nurse will check and record your height and weight to ensure you're a healthy size, which can make your diabetes easier to control. They will also check your blood pressure as high or low blood pressure can indicate your medication is not suitable for you or that you're developing a complication of diabetes such as atherosclerosis, which causes narrowing of your arteries.
The nurse will also examine your feet to ensure you're not showing signs of diabetic neuropathy, which causes you to lose sensation in your feet due to nerve damage and leaves you vulnerable to developing foot ulcers. A basic eye examination can also be carried out at the clinic, but as diabetics are at risk of developing several eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, it's advisable to have a thorough eye examination carried out by an optometrist at least yearly.
Blood samples will be collected to check the following:
- Liver Function - Some medications used to treat diabetes can affect your liver.
- Thyroid Function - An underactive thyroid is a possible complication of diabetes.
- Creatinine Levels - This test is used to establish how well your kidneys are functioning.
- Haemoglobin A1c - This test can show how well controlled your blood glucose levels have been over the last few months, which helps the nurse determine if you're on the correct type and dosage of medication.
A urine sample will also be collected to check for protein, which should not normally be detectable in your urine. If protein is present, you may be at an increased risk of developing heart problems.
During your clinic appointment, you'll also have time to discuss how you're coping with having diabetes and how you feel your current treatment plan is working for you. Your diabetic nurse can give you advice on exercise, alcohol consumption and eating a healthy diet. If required, they can also organise onward referrals to other healthcare practitioners such as a dietician or podiatrist. Centres like Medical Centre 291 have dieticians who can work with you to make sure your diet isn't adversely affecting your condition.
Attending the diabetic clinic at your medical centre gives you the opportunity to get to know your diabetic nurse and form a professional relationship with them as you work together to keep your diabetes under control.