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Diabetes tests and checkups

Routine diabetes tests; Diabetes - prevention

People who take control of their own diabetes care by eating healthy foods and living an active lifestyle often have good control of their blood sugar levels. Still, regular health checkups and tests are needed. These visits give you a chance to:

  • Ask your health care provider questions
  • Learn more about your diabetes and what you can do to keep your blood sugar in your target range
  • Make sure you are taking your medicines the right way

See Your Doctor

See your diabetes doctor for an exam every 3 to 6 months. During this exam, your doctor should check your:

  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Feet

See your dentist every 6 months, also.

Eye Exams

An eye doctor should check your eyes every year. See an eye doctor who takes care of people with diabetes.

If you have eye problems because of diabetes, you will probably see your eye doctor more often.

Foot Exams

Your doctor should check the pulses in your feet and your reflexes at least once a year. Your doctor should also look for:

  • Calluses
  • Infections
  • Sores
  • Loss of feeling anywhere in your feet (peripheral neuropathy)

If you have had foot ulcers before, see your doctor every 3 to 6 months. It is always a good idea to ask your doctor to check your feet.

Hemoglobin A1C Tests

An A1C lab test shows how well you are controlling your blood sugar levels over a 3-month period.

The normal level is less than 5.7%. Most people with diabetes should aim for an A1C of less than 7%. Some people have a higher target. Your doctor will help decide what your target should be.

Higher A1C numbers mean that your blood sugar is higher and that you may be more likely to have complications from your diabetes.

Cholesterol

A cholesterol profile test measures cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. You should have this kind of test in the morning, after not eating since the night before.

Adults with type 2 diabetes should have this test every 5 years. People with high cholesterol or are on medicines to control their cholesterol may have this test more often.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure should be measured at every visit.

Kidney Tests

Once a year, you should have a urine test that looks for a protein called albumin.

Your doctor will also have you take a blood test every year that measures how well your kidneys work.

References

American Diabetes Association. 3. Comprehensive medical evaluation and assessment of comorbidities: standards of medical care in diabetes-2018. Diabetes Care. 2018;41(Suppl 1):S28-S37. PMID: 29222374 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29222374.

Cagliero E. Diabetes and long-term complications. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 51.

  • HbA1c

    Animation

  •  

    HbA1c - Animation

    If you have diabetes, it's important to keep tight control of your blood sugar. The Hemoglobin A1c test, or HbA1C test, is one way to find out if you are in control. Hemoglobin is an important part of the red blood cell. Red blood cells live about three months. During the life of a red blood cell, sugar molecules, also floating around in your blood, tend to want to stick to the hemoglobin of your red blood cells. Identifying these sugar molecules allows us to get an approximate three-month average of how high persons blood sugars have been. The HbA1c test helps us diagnose a patient suspected of having diabetes and monitors the blood sugar of a diabetic patient. Now, how do we screen for diabetes? If your doctor suspects you have diabetes, your physician will order this simple blood test. A normal HbA1c level is less than 6.0%, which is a three month blood sugar average of around 126 milligrams per deciliter, written like this in your lab results. (126 mg/dl). A HgbA1c level of 5.7 to 6.4% means you are pre-diabetic or borderline-diabetic. If your HgbA1C is 6.5% or higher, you are considered to be a diabetic. That correlates roughly to a 3-month blood sugar average of 140. So, if you are a diabetic, what level should your HbA1c be? Through a combination of a good diabetic diet that controls for carbohydrates, proteins, fats and calories, the American Diabetes Association currently recommends a HbA1C goal of less than 7%. I should also point out that the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends an even stricter control of diabetes - with a recommended goal of less than 6.5%. What we do know is diabetes causes permanent and irreversible damage to the nerves, blood vessels and body organs, like your eyes, kidneys, heart and also your feet. So, it's critical to get and keep your diabetes under good control to avoid serious long-term health problems. People often ask -- How often should a hemoglobin A1C test be done IF you are a diabetic? Since the HbA1c Test reflects 3 months of control, I recommend getting checked every 3 months to let you, and your doctor know how you're doing. Remember, if you have diabetes, keeping good control of your blood sugar reduces your risk for long-term health problems, like Eye, heart, kidney problems, and even stroke. See your doctor for HbA1c tests every 3 months; you'll be glad you did.

  • HbA1c

    Animation

  •  

    HbA1c - Animation

    If you have diabetes, it's important to keep tight control of your blood sugar. The Hemoglobin A1c test, or HbA1C test, is one way to find out if you are in control. Hemoglobin is an important part of the red blood cell. Red blood cells live about three months. During the life of a red blood cell, sugar molecules, also floating around in your blood, tend to want to stick to the hemoglobin of your red blood cells. Identifying these sugar molecules allows us to get an approximate three-month average of how high persons blood sugars have been. The HbA1c test helps us diagnose a patient suspected of having diabetes and monitors the blood sugar of a diabetic patient. Now, how do we screen for diabetes? If your doctor suspects you have diabetes, your physician will order this simple blood test. A normal HbA1c level is less than 6.0%, which is a three month blood sugar average of around 126 milligrams per deciliter, written like this in your lab results. (126 mg/dl). A HgbA1c level of 5.7 to 6.4% means you are pre-diabetic or borderline-diabetic. If your HgbA1C is 6.5% or higher, you are considered to be a diabetic. That correlates roughly to a 3-month blood sugar average of 140. So, if you are a diabetic, what level should your HbA1c be? Through a combination of a good diabetic diet that controls for carbohydrates, proteins, fats and calories, the American Diabetes Association currently recommends a HbA1C goal of less than 7%. I should also point out that the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends an even stricter control of diabetes - with a recommended goal of less than 6.5%. What we do know is diabetes causes permanent and irreversible damage to the nerves, blood vessels and body organs, like your eyes, kidneys, heart and also your feet. So, it's critical to get and keep your diabetes under good control to avoid serious long-term health problems. People often ask -- How often should a hemoglobin A1C test be done IF you are a diabetic? Since the HbA1c Test reflects 3 months of control, I recommend getting checked every 3 months to let you, and your doctor know how you're doing. Remember, if you have diabetes, keeping good control of your blood sugar reduces your risk for long-term health problems, like Eye, heart, kidney problems, and even stroke. See your doctor for HbA1c tests every 3 months; you'll be glad you did.

    A Closer Look

     

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    Review Date: 5/17/2018

    Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, board certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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