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Diabetes - tests and checkups

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:

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 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.

Alternative Names

Routine diabetes tests; Diabetes - prevention

References

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.

Standards of medical care in diabetes - 2016. Diabetes Care. 2016;39:S4-S5. PMID: 26696680 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26696680.

Review Date 5/17/2016

Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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