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Diabetes: Exams and Tests You Need

Topic Overview

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes have regular exams and tests according to the following schedule:1

Schedule for exams and tests beginning at diagnosis of diabetes

Time interval

Exams and tests

Every routine visit (for example, every 3 months)

Visit your doctor for:

  • A review of your blood sugar levels since your last checkup. Your doctor will evaluate whether your prescribed treatment needs changing.
  • A blood pressure check. If you have high blood pressure, ask whether you should monitor your blood pressure at home. Your child with diabetes needs to keep his or her blood pressure within the levels appropriate for his or her age.
  • An examination of your feet for signs of injury, infection, or other foot problems.
  • A hemoglobin A1c or similar test (glycosylated hemoglobin or glycohemoglobin). If your blood sugar levels are remaining stable and your treatment hasn't changed, this test may be done every 6 months.
  • A blood glucose test. Check the accuracy of your blood sugar meter at this time to see whether your home blood sugar tests are reliable.
Every 6 months

Visit your dentist for a dental exam to check for gum problems.

Every year

Adults

Visit your doctor for:

  • A cholesterol (LDL and HDL) and triglyceride test. If your levels are normal, you may be tested every 2 years.
    • Adults with diabetes and no history of heart disease need to keep their LDL cholesterol level less than 100 mg/dL, their triglyceride level less than 150 mg/dL, and, if possible, their HDL cholesterol level more than 40 mg/dL for men, and more than 50 mg/dL for women.
    • Adults with diabetes and a history of heart disease need to keep their LDL cholesterol level less than 100 mg/dL or aim for keeping it at 70 mg/dL.
  • A thorough examination of your feet, including testing your ability to feel sensation.
  • A shot for flu (influenza).

Children

Take your child who has diabetes to the doctor for:

  • A cholesterol (LDL and HDL) and triglyceride test. If your child's levels are normal, then he or she can be tested every 5 years.
    • Children with a family history of high cholesterol or early coronary artery disease (CAD) need to be tested right after diagnosis (if they are 2 years of age or older). If there is no family history of early CAD or high cholesterol, children should first be tested at puberty.
    • Children with diabetes need to keep their LDL cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL.
  • A thorough examination of your child's feet, including testing to see how well he or she can feel when the feet are touched. Your child with diabetes may not need a thorough examination of his or her feet each year until after puberty.
  • A flu shot for ages 6 months and older.

References

Citations

  1. American Diabetes Association (2013). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2013. Diabetes Care, 36(Suppl 1): S11–S66.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Last Revised July 16, 2013

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