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Diabetes Discoveries & Practice Blog

Resources to Answer Common Questions from Patients with Diabetes

A doctor talking to a patient.

Get answers to your patients’ questions about managing their diabetes.

Health care professionals are often their patients’ guideposts when it comes to diabetes management. To help patients stay on track, it is important to know how to answer their questions. Below are some common questions your patients with diabetes may ask you, along with NIDDK resources to help you share up-to-date information.

“How can I manage my weight or lose weight safely if I have diabetes?”

Because overweight and obesity are so prevalent, patients often ask their health care professionals to help them manage their weight. But metabolic changes can make obesity management difficult for many people with diabetes. Below, experts share resources that can help you advise your patients.

  • Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness, offers recommendations and resources that health care professionals can use to address obesity, weight management, and metabolic changes for patients with diabetes.
  • Some patients may need to make lifestyle changes to reach and maintain their weight goal. Kevin D. Hall, PhD, Integrative Physiology Section Chief, Laboratory of Biological Modeling, shares how health care professionals can use the NIH Body Weight Planner with their patients to help them reach their goals.
  • An expert in diabetes and exercise research, Sheri Colberg, PhD, FACSM, shares ways to help your patients with diabetes be more active.

“I feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and distressed about managing my diabetes. Any advice on how I can stay motivated?”

Feeling stressed, sad, or angry is common among people living with diabetes. Below, experts share resources that can help you have empathetic discussions about stress or depression during your visits with patients.

“I’m having trouble managing my medicines and blood glucose levels. How can I remember to take my medicines and stay within my target blood glucose range?”

Most diabetes care is self-management provided by the person with diabetes. However, some people with diabetes struggle to manage their medicines and blood glucose levels. Below, experts share resources that can help your patients be the best self-managers possible.

  • Diabetes self-management education and support can improve A1C levels and have a positive effect on other clinical, psychosocial, and behavioral aspects of diabetes. Margaret (Maggie) Powers, PhD, RD, CDE, a clinician and research scientist at the International Diabetes Center in Park Nicollet in Minneapolis, explains how you can help your patients.
  • Arshiya Baig, MD, MPH, associate director of the Chicago Center for Diabetes Research and Translation, discusses how text messaging can enhance diabetes self-management and care.
  • Marie T. Brown, MD, director of Practice Redesign at the American Medical Association, offers advice to streamline medication management to help improve patients’ medication adherence.

“I’m worried about potential diabetes complications such as eye problems, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease. What do I need to be aware of as someone living with diabetes?”

Diabetes can affect many parts of the body and is associated with serious health complications. Below are some up-to-date resources and research to help you answer your patients’ questions.

  • Retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes. Research from the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) study suggests that adjusting the frequency of eye screenings for people with type 1 diabetes based on their risk of severe eye problems, rather than automatically scheduling them annually, can help reduce costs for patients and could even result in quicker diagnosis and treatment of severe retinopathy. 
  • Cardiovascular disease. For patients with diabetes, reducing their risk for cardiovascular disease should be a top priority. Nathan D. Wong, PhD, director of the Heart Disease Prevention Program at the University of California, Irvine, talks about the importance of broadening the clinical focus of diabetes care from hemoglobin A1C to also address other risk factors for cardiovascular disease that are common in patients with diabetes.
  • High blood pressure. People with high blood pressure, especially those with diabetes, are at higher risk for kidney disease. Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH, director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins University, discusses the link between high blood pressure and kidney disease and the importance of early detection and management.
  • Kidney disease. People with diabetes are at high risk for kidney disease. Meda E. Pavkov, MD, PhD, medical epidemiologist in the Chronic Kidney Disease Initiative within the Division for Diabetes Translation at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), discusses steps that people with diabetes can take to protect their kidneys.

Subscribe to the Diabetes Discoveries & Practice Blog to get more answers to your patients’ questions.


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Diabetes Discoveries and Practice Blog
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