Diabetes - tests and checkups
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Routine diabetes tests
You can live an active lifestyle when you take control of your diabetes care. Still, you must have regular health checkups and tests. These visits will give you a chance to:
- Ask your doctor or nurse questions.
- Learn more about diabetes.
See Your Doctor
See your diabetes doctor every 3 - 6 months. During this exam, your doctor should check your:
Also see your dentist every 6 months.
An eye doctor should check your eyes at least once a 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.
Your doctor should check the pulses in your feet and your reflexes at least once a year. The doctor should also look for calluses, infections, and sores.
The doctor should check every year for loss of feeling, using a special tool.
If you have had foot ulcers before, see your doctor every 3 - 6 months. It is always a good idea to ask your doctor to check your feet.
Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C)
An HbA1C lab test shows how well you are controlling your blood sugar levels over a three-month period.
The normal level is less than 6%. Most people with diabetes should aim for an HbA1C of less than 7%. Some people have a higher target, however. Your doctor will tell you what your target should be.
Higher HbA1C numbers mean that your blood sugar is higher.
A cholesterol test measures cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. You should have the test on an empty stomach after not eating overnight.
Adults with type 2 diabetes should have this test every year. People with high cholesterol may have this test more often.
Once a year, you should have a urine test. It looks for a protein called "albumin."
You will have more of this protein in your blood if you have early kidney damage due to diabetes. But the level of this protein in urine can also be higher for other reasons.
Your doctor will also check a kidney blood test every year. This test measures how well your kidneys work.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2012. Diabetes Care. 2012 Jan;35 Suppl 1:S11-63.
In the clinic. Type 2 diabetes. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Mar 2;152(1):ITC1-16.
Inzucchi SE, Sherwin RS. Type 1 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 236.
Inzucchi SE, Sherwin RS. Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 237.
- Last reviewed on 9/4/2012
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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This page was last updated: April 14, 2014