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Diabetes - tests and checkups

Alternate Names

Routine diabetes tests

Description

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:

  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Feet

See your dentist every 6 months.

Eye Exams

An eye doctor should check your eyes at least once a year. If you have eye problems because of diabetes, you will probably see your eye doctor more often.

See also: Diabetes - eye care

Foot Exams

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 or sensation, using a special instrument.

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.

See also: Diabetes - taking care of your feet

Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C)

An HbA1C lab test shows the average amount of sugar in your blood over 3 months. It shows how well you are controlling your diabetes.

The normal level is less than 6%. Most people with diabetes should have an HbA1C of less than 7%. Higher numbers mean that your diabetes control is not as good.

Cholesterol

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.

See also: Diabetes - preventing heart attack and stroke

Kidney Tests

Once a year, you should have a urine test. It looks for a protein called "albumin." Because the test looks for small amounts of albumin, it is sometimes called a test for microalbuminuria. 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 your kidney function with a blood test every year.

References

American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2010. Diabetes Care. 2010 Jan;33 Suppl 1:S11-61.

Inzucchi SE and Sherwin RS. Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L and Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 248.

In the clinic. Type 2 diabetes. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Mar 2;152(5):ITC1-16.


Review Date: 10/6/2010
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and Davie R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine (10/6/2010).
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