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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, living an active lifestyle, and taking medicines as prescribed 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 provider for an exam every 3 to 6 months. During this exam, your provider should check your:

  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Feet

See your dentist every 6 months, also.

If you are taking insulin, your provider will also examine your skin to look for signs of reactions to insulin at your injection sites. These may be hard areas or areas where fat under the skin has formed a lump.

Your provider may also check your abdomen for signs of an enlarged liver.

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

  • Calluses
  • Infections
  • Sores
  • Thick toenails
  • Loss of feeling anywhere in your feet (peripheral neuropathy), done with a tool called a monofilament

If you have had foot ulcers before, see your provider every 3 to 6 months. It is always a good idea to ask your provider 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 at least 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. Talk to your provider about what your blood pressure goal should be.

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. 4. Comprehensive medical evaluation and assessment of comorbidities: standards of medical care in diabetes-2020. Diabetes Care. 2020;43(Suppl 1):S37-S47. PMID: 31862747 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31862747/.

Brownlee M, Aiello LP, Sun JK, et al. Complications of diabetes mellitus. In: Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ,eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 37.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Your diabetes care schedule. www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/care-schedule.html. Updated December 16, 2019. Accessed July 10, 2020.

Review Date: 5/13/2020

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.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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