Important Tests and Screenings
Diabetes is a disease that can be managed
Diabetes can be managed if you take care of yourself and watch your health. First you must know the ABC's of diabetes. A is for hemoglobin A1c, B stands for blood pressure and C is for cholesterol. All of these are important things to monitor if you want to be in control of your diabetes.
- A1c lab test – This gives a three-month average of your blood sugar levels. Your A1c should be less than 7 percent. If it is higher than 7 percent, your provider or diabetes educator can help you lower it. This test should be done one to four times a year.
- Blood pressure – Your provider should check your blood pressure at every visit. People with diabetes have a higher risk of having high blood pressure. Ask your provider what your numbers are and where your numbers should be.
- Cholesterol (Lipid panel) - This measures the total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels in your blood. These levels help rate your risk for heart disease. Adults with diabetes should have this test at least once a year.
Diabetes can damage many different parts of your body. You may not have any symptoms of the damage until it is too late to do much about it. It is important to visit your provider often and have a set schedule for these and other important tests. Here are other important tests to prevent future complications:
Dilated eye exams - Your eyes should be checked at least once a year by an eye care provider. Drops will be used to dilate your pupils and check the back of your eye for damage caused by your diabetes. This damage can cause poor vision or blindness.
Urine test – A test called microalbumin checks for kidney disease (nephropathy). If you have kidney disease, you may need to change your diet to lower how much salt and protein you eat. Kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, dialysis and transplant. This test should be done at least once a year.
Foot exams – Your provider should check your feet at each visit to look for cuts, sores or calluses that you may not notice due to nerve damage. Foot sores heal slower in people who have diabetes and can lead to infection and loss of a limb. You should also check your feet daily.
These tests give you and your provider a chance to find problems early, when they are easier to treat. Talk to your provider about a test schedule that's right for you.