Diabetes is a chronic condition where the pancreas does not produce enough or produces no insulin, thereby causing high blood sugar. People with diabetes are at high risk for complications that affect several parts of the body. Uncontrolled sugar is likely to affect eyes, feet, nerves, kidneys, heart and liver. To avoid the risk of health complications, one must get diabetes tests and a full body diabetes checkup annually if you are diabetic or have prediabetes.
The Three Most Important Diabetes Tests are:
This is an important blood test to indicate if your sugar levels are in control. It is also called the haemoglobin A1c or glycated haemoglobin test.
How often do you get this test?
A diabetic should get their HbA1c tested every three months.
Blood glucose gets bound to hemoglobin; that part is glycosylated hemoglobin. The life span of Red Blood Cells is 90 days, so the glycosylated haemoglobin survives for 90 days. When we check HbA1c, we check this glycosylated component and arrive at a value that gives us average blood glucose in the past three months.
WHO recommends the following diagnostic guidelines:
- HbA1c below 6.0%: Non-diabetic
- HbA1c between 6.0–6.4%: Prediabetes
- HbA1c of 6.5%: Type 2 diabetes
Random blood glucose plus occasionally an HbA1c test to support the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes.
One must check their sugar levels daily using a home glucometer. Using a Smartphone-connected glucometer is ideal as it lets you record all your sugar readings on a mobile app and analyse the data as well.
Diabetes can cause nerve damage (neuropathy in feet), delayed healing of wounds and infections in feet. These can lead to severe damage to feet and in the worst-case scenario, even amputation. Proper foot care through wearing proper fitted shoes, keeping one’s feet clean, dry and well moisturized is important. Never use razors or let sharp objects injure your feet. Get such injuries treated right away.
How often do you get a foot exam?
A diabetic foot exam that checks your feet for nerve damage or loss of sensation and any wounds should be done annually.
Retinopathy Exam or Eye Exam
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the world.
People with diabetes can have diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar causes damage to blood vessels in the retina. Sometimes a person may have retinopathy but experience no symptoms other than mild vision problems and therefore retinopathy in eyes may go ignored. However, if sugar remains uncontrolled this can become severe and blood vessels can swell, leak, stop blood from passing, and overtime can even cause blindness.
How often do you get an eye exam?
It is extremely important for diabetics to get an annual eye exam for diabetic retinopathy.
Besides the aforementioned tests; a diabetic should also check the following:
- Blood pressure – if you have hypertension then check it once or twice a week at home. If you have high BP or been on medication for BP, then check more frequently till it stabilizes.
- Cholesterol / Lipid profile – Lipid profile annually or bi- annually based on your other health parameters and heart risk.
In general, a full body health checkup annually is recommended to be sure of all your parameters.
It is important that all diabetics consume a healthy diet, exercise on a regular basis and frequently monitor their sugar levels. All these things are imperative if they want to manage their diabetic condition in the best possible manner.
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