Diabetes: Tests to Watch for Complications
The table below summarizes the tests that can be done to identify complications from diabetes, including those tests done during a physical examination. The physical examination evaluates your overall health. The doctor pays special attention to your eyes, blood vessels, heart, lungs, nerves, abdomen, and feet. Tests range from taking your blood pressure to drawing blood to test your cholesterol or kidney function. For children with diabetes, the doctor may recommend testing more or less often.
Organ or condition
What it shows
High blood sugar
Most people with diabetes should have a hemoglobin A1c test every 3 months.
How steady your blood sugar levels have been over time
Every year, get your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels checked.
The amount of fat in your blood, which can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke
At every doctor's visit, have your blood pressure checked.
Pressure of blood flow in your arteries
Every year, have your urine checked for the protein albumin. Also, have your blood checked for the waste product creatinine.
These are used to calculate an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
Whether kidney disease is developing
The stage of kidney disease, if you already have it
Visit an ophthalmologist an optometrist for a dilated eye examination (ophthalmoscopy).
If you have type 1 diabetes, get tested every year.
If you have type 2 diabetes, get tested every year. If your eye examination results are normal or you have a very small amount of retinopathy, your doctor may consider follow-up examinations every 1 to 2 years.
Whether retinopathy (damage to back of the eye) has developed
No retinal damage
Every year, get a thorough examination of your feet.
Whether foot ulcers have developed and whether the person has lost any sensation
No foot ulcers or loss of sensation
Your dentist will recommend how often to have routine checkups. Many people should see their dentists once or twice a year.
Healthy gums and teeth
All children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes should have a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test every two years.
Women with type 1 diabetes during pregnancy should be screened for postpartum thyroiditis at 6 to 8 weeks postpartum.
Normal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level
- Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee (2013). Canadian Diabetes Association 2013 clinical practice guidelines for the prevention and management of diabetes in Canada. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 37(Suppl 1). Also available online: http://guidelines.diabetes.ca.
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Current as ofAugust 7, 2015
Current as of: August 7, 2015
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