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You know the feeling…walking into your quarterly endocrinologist appointment hoping for the best…but fully expecting the worst. Another 90 days has come and gone and you feel like you haven’t made any progress towards lowering your A1C. So you do the same old song and dance with your endocrinologist. They view your blood sugar lows, change up a few basal rates, and send you on your way. But when you leave their office, the motivation to continue slowly dwindles down in a few days or weeks and the cycle repeats itself yet again. If you want to know how to lower your A1C without the overwhelm, keep reading for how the Keeping it 100 proven-framework has supported people with diabetes with reaching their diabetes self-management goals.
How does an endocrinologist help with diabetes?
An endocrinologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hormone-related disorders, such as diabetes. For people with diabetes, endocrinologists play an important role in managing insulin and other blood glucose lowering medication needs that provide the best blood glucose control.
How often should someone with diabetes see their endocrinologist?
The frequency of visits with an endocrinologist will vary depending on each individual’s specific needs and therapy goals. Typically, individuals with diabetes who are not meeting their treatment goals are advised to meet with their endocrinologist every 3 months, while those who are meeting their treatment goals can schedule appointments every 6 months.
How often should your A1C be checked with diabetes?
The A1C blood test measures your average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months. For many adults, a goal of less than 7% is recommended. However, A1C goals are personalized and may be higher or lower depending on individual needs. The frequency of A1C testing depends on whether treatment goals are being met. According to the American Diabetes Association, individuals should get their A1C levels tested every six months if their last reading was in the target range. However, if there has been a change in medications or the last A1C reading was not within the target range, testing should be done every three months.
How long does it take to lower A1C with diabetes?
It's essential to recognize that reducing your A1C levels is a gradual process. Unlike a blood glucose test, the A1C test measures your average blood sugar levels over a 2 to 3 month period. As a result, it may take up to 3 months to observe significant changes in your A1C levels.
How to lower your A1C with diabetes
To lower your A1C, it's important to collaborate with your endocrinologist and prepare adequately for your appointments. These appointments should be more than just checkpoints and can be an excellent opportunity to work in partnership with your care team.
Here are some steps you can take to start reducing your A1C levels before your next scheduled endocrinologist appointment:
Step 1: Break Down Your Diabetes Behaviors
When it comes to self-managing diabetes, there are a number of lifestyle behaviors that can significantly improve your blood sugar control. By breaking down your daily behaviors, you may find that there are certain areas that can easily support your blood sugar that have been neglected aside from the common behaviors of taking medication, checking blood sugar, making dietary modifications, and increasing physical activity. Looking at your daily lifestyle behaviors can help you identify which areas are supporting your management and which areas need closer attention.
Step 2: Nail Down Your Baseline Insulin Rates
Insulin management is the foundation of blood sugar management for people with type 1 diabetes. Just like if you were to build a house without a solid foundation, it would come crashing down- the same thing goes for your insulin management. You want to make sure that you have nailed down your baseline basal rates, insulin-to-carb ratios, and corrections factors because if your rates are off, nothing else matters since this is the foundation of your management. Working with your care team, diabetes educator, or dietitian can help you with dialing in your baseline rates. For non-insulin dependent diabetics, selecting the appropriate medication therapy is also critical in decreasing A1C levels, and your care team can collaborate with you to identify the best treatment plan that maximizes your results.
Step 3: Strategize Daily Variability
No matter how long you have been living with diabetes you know that no two days are ever the same. There are a number of daily factors that can influence your blood sugars. The most prominent ones include: nutrition, exercise, and hormones. When you are able to assess how your blood sugars respond to different types of meals, different intensities of exercise, and shifting hormone levels, you can create a more trusting relationship with your body and blood sugars. You will be able to be more proactive by anticipating how your blood sugars will respond to the most common variables.
Step 4: Conquer High Variability Areas
High variability areas can often feel like an automatic failure before you even try. Whether it is eating out at a restaurant, attending a holiday party, or traveling, the high number of variables can often make it seem like you have to choose between either keeping your blood sugars in range or enjoying yourself. But, there can absolutely be a happy medium where you can coexist with managing your blood sugars and living your life. By working through how you approach these situations with an open and nonjudgmental mindset paired with adequate understanding of challenging blood sugar variables, you will be able to conquer high variability areas, too.
Step 5: Focus on One Thing at a Time
It's important to focus on one thing at a time rather than trying to manage everything at once when dealing with diabetes in between visits with your endocrinologist. With various aspects such as food, workouts, stress levels, and hydration, it's easy to lose focus and feel overwhelmed. By having clear, intentional goals, you can filter out distractions and stay on track towards achieving them. Our free quiz can help guide you towards what you should be focusing on based on your personal preferences and goals, whether it's lowering A1C levels, increasing time in range, or adding more predictability and flexibility to your life.
Step 6: Reflect on the Data
Even though not everyone has access to technology like continuous glucose monitors or enough test strips, technology can provide people with diabetes with crucial information about their blood sugar readings. However, many individuals with diabetes are not aware of how to make the most of these reports to enhance their self-management and improve their blood sugar levels. To learn how to utilize your blood sugar data to optimize your self-management, check out this blog post.
When you set out to lower your A1C, you may feel overwhelmed with all of the conflicting information that is out there. But, once you are able to take a birds eye view of your management and see what areas are working and not working you will be able to create intentional steps towards lowering your A1C without feeling overwhelmed in the process.