In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our January-February 2011 issue, we asked WebMD's diabetes expert, Michael Dansinger, MD, to answer a question about the link between prediabetes and diabetes.
Q: At my last checkup, my doctor told me I have prediabetes. Does that mean I'll ultimately develop diabetes?
A: Almost everyone who develops type 2 diabetes develops prediabetes first. But not everyone who has prediabetes...
Finding diabetes specialists to help you manage your blood glucose and keep it at safe levels
Finding specialists who can help you prevent or cope with diabetes complications
Because diabetes affects every system in your body, you'll want a range of diabetes specialists to help you maintain your health and well-being.
Diabetes and Your Primary Care Provider
Your regular doctor may be the first person to request that you be tested for diabetes. That request may be based on blood tests, as well as symptoms you've had that could indicate diabetes. Symptoms that suggest diabetes include:
Unusual weight loss
Once you're diagnosed, you'll need periodic testing to help prevent and manage complications of diabetes. Those tests will evaluate the following:
A1C levels. The A1C test evaluates your glucose levels for the previous three months. You should have the A1C test twice a year -- or more often if your glucose test results are high.
Blood pressure.High blood pressure combined with diabetes puts you at high risk for a heart attack or stroke. Your blood pressure should be checked at least once a year.
Cholesterol. High levels of the "good" cholesterol, called HDL, and low levels of the "bad" cholesterol, LDL, help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke when you have diabetes. Your cholesterol levels should be checked at least once a year.
Along with these tests, your doctor may advise pneumonia and flu shots and urine tests to check for kidney damage.
Your primary care provider may be an MD whose specialty is family practice, general practice, or internal medicine. Or it could be a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant in a doctor's office. Along with providing your yearly checkup, your primary care provider can refer you to local labs for blood work, diabetes specialists, and other resources for your care.
Diabetes and the Endocrinologist
The endocrinologist is the quarterback of your diabetes health care team. Sometimes called "diabetes doctors," endocrinologists are diabetes specialists trained to diagnose and treat medical conditions of the endocrine system. That includes the insulin-producing pancreas.
Your endocrinologist oversees your overall diabetes care. He or she will prescribe the right types and doses of diabetes medications, including insulin if you need it. He or she will also monitor your health for diabetes complications.
The endocrinologist schedules your diabetes checkups and blood glucose testing, depending on your needs, and refers you to other diabetes specialists as needed.
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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