Who Should Be Screened for Diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association, everyone should be screened for diabetes beginning at age 45, and then every three years after that. If you have multiple risk factors (e.g, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight), talk to your doctor about screening at an earlier age and screening more frequently.
What Does the Screening Involve?
The A1C test is the most commonly used. This is a quick and easy finger-stick screening that measures blood sugar levels following eight hours of fasting, as well as monitor blood sugar levels for those already diagnosed with the disease.
Why Get Screened?
Screening is especially important because early in the disease diabetes has no symptoms. Testing enables healthcare providers to find and treat diabetes before complications occur and to find and treat prediabetes, which can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.
If I Already Have Diabetes, What Tests Do I Need to Have?
There are several tests you need to have regularly if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Talk to your doctor about which ones you need and how often.
- Eye Exams – Diabetes can cause eye problems that, if not caught and addressed early, can lead to blindness. The most common eye disease is diabetic retinopathy, which is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. Every year, you should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam by your eye doctor, who will look for any damage or bleeding.
- Foot Exams – More than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated each year because of diabetes complications. Annual preventive checkups by a podiatrist, self-care, and keeping an eye out for any foot problems are the best way to keep your feet healthy. As part of these exams, your podiatrist should also check for any lack of sensation, which could indicate nerve damage. Recognize any early warning signs, including skin color changes, swelling, ulcers, and numbness.
- Heart Disease Screening – Adults with diabetes are two-to-four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults who don’t have diabetes. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity are three other heart disease risk factors that tend to accompany diabetes. Check your blood pressure at every doctor’s visit, which is typically every three-to-six months when you have diabetes.
- Kidney Function Tests – The kidneys are tasked with removing waste products from the blood, but high levels of blood sugar can cause them to work too hard. If you have diabetes, you should get a urine screen at your annual visit to ensure you’re not at risk for kidney disease.
- Dental Cleanings – Uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes can increase the risk of gum disease, tooth loss and dry mouth. Regular dental checkups — every six months or more frequently if you have gum disease — are important if you have diabetes.