Diabetes can be hard on your body if it's not well controlled. But having tests on a regular schedule can help you and your doctor find problems early, when it's easier to start managing them.
The tests you may have, how often you should have them, and the goals of the tests are:
A1c blood test. This test shows the average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. It helps your doctor see whether blood sugar levels have been staying within your target range.
Blood pressure test: This test measures the pressure of blood flow in the arteries. Controlling blood pressure can help prevent damage to nerves and blood vessels.
Cholesterol test: This test measures the amount of a type of fat in the blood. It is common for people with diabetes to also have high cholesterol. Too much cholesterol in the blood can build up inside the blood vessels and raise the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Albumin-creatinine ratio test: This test checks for kidney damage by looking for the protein albumin (say "al-BYOO-mun") in the urine. Albumin is normally found in the blood. Kidney damage can let small amounts of it (microalbumin) leak into the urine.
Blood creatinine test/estimated glomerular filtration (eGFR): The blood creatinine (say "kree-AT-uh-neen") level shows how well your kidneys are working. Creatinine is a waste product that muscles release into the blood. Blood creatinine is used to estimate the glomerular filtration rate. A high level may mean your kidneys are not working as well as they should.
Complete foot examination: The doctor checks for foot sores and whether any sensation has been lost.
Dental examination and cleaning: The dentist checks for gum disease and tooth decay. People with high blood sugar are more likely to have these problems.
Complete eye examination: High blood sugar levels can damage the eyes. This examination is done by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. It includes a dilated eye examination. The examination shows whether there's damage to the back of the eye (diabetic retinopathy).
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test: This test checks for thyroid disease. Too little thyroid hormone can cause some medicines (like insulin) to stay in the body longer. This can cause low blood sugar. You may be tested if you are a woman with type 1 diabetes who had a baby 6 to 8 weeks earlier.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 13, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & David C. W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology & Matthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
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