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Diabetes - tests and checkups


Alternate Names

Routine diabetes tests


You can live an active lifestyle when you take control of your own diabetes care. Still, everyone with diabetes must have regular health checkups and tests. These appointments will give you a chance to ask your doctor or nurse questions and learn more about diabetes.

See Your Doctor

See your diabetes doctor every 3 to 6 months. During this exam, your doctor should check your blood pressure, your weight, and your feet.

You will also need to see your dentist every 6 months.

Eye Exams

An eye doctor (called an ophthalmologist) should check your eyes at least once a year. If you have eye problems because of diabetes, you will probably see your eye doctor more often.

See also: Diabetes - eye care

Foot Exams

Your doctor should check the pulses in your feet and your reflexes at least once a year. The doctor should also look for calluses, infections, and sores. If you have had foot ulcers before, you should see your doctor every 3 to 6 months.

See also: Diabetes - taking care of your feet

Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C)

An HbA1C lab test reflects the average amount of sugar in your blood over the past 3 months. It shows how well you are controlling your diabetes. The normal level is less than 6%. Most people with diabetes should have an HbA1C of less than 7%. Higher numbers mean that your diabetes control is not as good.


A cholesterol test measures how much cholesterol and triglycerides are in your blood. You will have the test on an empty stomach after not eating overnight.

Adults should have this test every year. If you are being treated for high cholesterol, you may have this test more often.

See also: Diabetes - preventing heart attack and stroke

Kidney Tests

Once a year, you will need a urine test that looks for a protein called "albumin." Because the test looks for small amounts of albumin, it is sometimes called a test for microalbuminuria. You will have more of this protein in your blood if you have early kidney damage due to diabetes. But, the level of this protein in urine can also be higher for other reasons.

Your doctor may also check your level of kidney function with a blood test every year.


American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008 Jan;31 Suppl 1:S12-54.

Inzucchi SE and Sherwin RS. Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L and Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 248.

Review Date: 11/23/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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