10 Test That All Diabetics Should Know About, by Jeanette Terry
1. Blood glucose self monitoring
Frequency: 4-6 times per day or as doctor instructs
Regularly checking blood glucose levels will help balance and maintain good diabetes control. This test measures the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. By testing you will know how much medication or insulin to take and how to balance your diet to help control those levels.
2. Hemoglobin A1c
Frequency: every 3 to 6 months
This test reflects the average amount of glucose in the bloodstream over time. This test gives you more insight regarding overall diabetes control than daily blood sugar checks can. It is advised to aim for an A1c of 7% or less for optimal diabetes care and overall health.
3. Blood Pressure
Frequency: at each doctor’s visit (the doctor may have you check it more often if it is high)
High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels just as too much sugar in the bloodstream can. The blood vessels to worry most about are the vessels in the eyes which are already at risk due to diabetes. It is important to keep your blood pressure below 130/80 so as to not cause additional complications and increase the risk of heart disease.
4. Lipid Profile
This is a blood test to measure the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. There are two types of cholesterol that are measured in this test. HDL is the good cholesterol that can protect against heart disease. LDL is bad cholesterol that damages the heart. Triglycerides are another fat that are measured in the bloodstream with this test. Make sure to discuss the results of this test with your healthcare team and make adjustments in your lifestyle if necessary to achieve healthy levels of each.
5. Eye exam
As a diabetic you should be seen by your ophthalmologist at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. This is to check for retinopathy which is a much higher risk for those with diabetes. Retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in the retina change. This can cause the fluid in the eye to leak or for the vessels to close off completely. Retinopathy can be treated if caught early so make sure you are diligent about getting this test done.
6. Foot exam
Frequency: yearly (unless you see changes in your feet, then ask your doctor)
Many diabetics have bad circulation and often develop neuropathy, causing reduced sensitivity in the feet. In addition to having your doctor do a foot exam, make sure to check your own feet frequently for any wounds or irregularities. By checking your feet you may be able to reduce complications with your feet by catching any problems early.
7. Dental Checkup
Frequency: every 6 months
Along with poor blood sugar control comes the impairment of white blood cells that fight off bacterial infection. If you do not take good care of your mouth you are at a much higher risk for gum disease. Keep your recommended dental appointment in order to maintain optimum health for your teeth and gums.
8. Microalbuminuria check
Frequency: at least once a year (your doctor should request this test more often if there is reason for concern)
This is a urine test to verify if there is protein in the urine which would indicate whether or not you are at risk for a variety of kidney problems. Diabetics are more at risk for kidney disease and if caught early the damage can be treated and slowed.
Frequency: Should be checked at each doctor’s visit to help you stay at a healthy weight.
The body mass index measures an individual’s body fat according to their height and weight. A BMI that is above the normal range would indicate a person is at risk of obesity. Obesity can be a huge risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Also, diabetes can be much better managed if a person strives to keep their BMI within the recommended range.
10. Neurologic examination
Frequency: yearly (unless you are experiencing nerve pain, then consult your doctor)
Because diabetics often have bad circulation and are at a much higher risk for neuropathy, make sure you receive a complete neurologic examination in order to locate any areas that you are having nerve pain or complications.