Diabetes: 7 exams and tests you should get regularly

November 3, 2015 Providence Health Team

Diabetes is a condition that can affect the body from head to toe. By getting regular tests and checkups, you can help prevent complications. Here’s a list of important exams and suggested times for how often to get each one, but keep in mind you doctor may recommend more frequent testing based on your individual health.

A1c test

This blood test shows the average amount of glucose in your blood over the past two to three months. The results indicate how well your glucose is controlled and whether your treatment requires any changes.
Frequency: At least twice a year or more often if you are not meeting glycemic goals

Blood lipids test

This test checks for various types of fat. LDL cholesterol, otherwise known as the “bad” kind, can narrow or block blood vessels, possibly leading to a heart attack or stroke, both serious risks for anyone with diabetes.
Frequency: At least annually

Blood pressure test

Controlling your blood pressure helps prevent problems related to your heart, eyes and kidneys. The target for most adults with diabetes is less than 140/80 mm Hg, and in certain cases, less than 130/80 mm Hg. Both numbers matter. The first one is the pressure as your heart beats and pushes blood into your vessels. The second one is the pressure as your heart rests between beats.
Frequency: At every health care appointment

Dental checkup

Diabetes increases the risk for tooth and gum problems. In turn, it’s critical to get regular dental cleanings and examinations.
Frequency: At least twice a year

Dilated eye exam

High blood glucose and high blood pressure can cause eye problems or even blindness. That’s why it’s important to monitor your eye health. During a dilated eye exam, an ophthalmologist or optometrist puts drops in your eyes to temporarily enlarge your pupils. This allows him to look for signs of damage.
Frequency: Annually

Foot exam

Diabetes can cause nerve damage in your feet, making it difficult to feel a wound or injury. If left untreated, an injury can lead to infection and ultimately more serious complications such as amputation. Ask your doctor to examine your feet for sores at every visit. You also should have a more comprehensive foot exam to check you circulation.
Frequency: Annually for the comprehensive exam

Kidney function tests

Diabetes can damage the kidneys and eventually cause kidney failure. Various tests can detect kidney problems before they become severe. One test checks for a protein called microalbumin in the urine, an early indicator of kidney disease. Another test checks the blood for creatinine, a waste product that builds up when kidneys don’t function properly.
Frequency: Annually

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