Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects about 20 million Americans and is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack. Visiting a primary care physician is one of the most important things you can do to prevent complications from diabetes. Here are some topics you should discuss:
1. Flu shot
A flu shot is the best way to protect against the flu. It does not prevent you from getting the flu, but it can help to prevent serious complications of influenza that people with diabetes can develop. The virus is different every year, so ask your doctor every year about a shot – usually in the fall.
2. Annual foot exam
Performed by your primary care physician or a podiatrist, a foot exam includes looking for nerve changes, skin health and toenail issues. People who have diabetes have microscopic damage that occurs with elevated blood sugars to the small blood vessel – especially in the foot and eyes. Have your doctor check your feet and toenails every year, and wear shoes and cotton socks to protect your feet as much as possible.
3. Eye exams
Get an eye exam yearly to look for changes to your retina and blood vessels in the eye. Blood sugar changes can cause damage to your retina, so see an eye doctor periodically for a dilated exam. Catching these changes early can save your vision.
4. Baby aspirin
It is generally recommended that a daily regimen of 81 mg of aspirin is good for those who have diabetes because they have higher risks of heart disease and stroke. However, for people who don’t have diabetes, aspirin may not be necessary for cardiac and stroke prevention.
5. Medication for kidney protection
A small dose of a blood pressure medicine is important for people living with diabetes. Taking something now, while your kidneys are healthy, can prevent long-term kidney damage. Get your kidneys checked annually with urine and blood tests by your primary care physician.