You already know about visiting your diabetes doctor on a regular schedule – that one comes almost without thinking (or maybe you’re forced to, just to get prescriptions refilled). But here are some other docs you should think about seeing, tests you should think about doing, and appointments you should think about making in order to keep you ticking along like a finely crafted timepiece.
1. HbA1c – Long Term Average Blood Sugar
This diabetes test is considered the cornerstone of diabetes management. It’s usually done once every three or four months and provides an estimated average blood sugar over that time. It’s important to note that an HbA1c alone isn’t enough to show the complete picture because wildly fluctuating blood sugars can show the same average as a flat and steady blood sugar. But it is still a very useful test. This one is either done with your other lab tests or it can be done with a simple fingerstick at your doctor’s office.
2. Blood Pressure
It’s no secret that diabetes and hypertension often occur together. So it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your blood pressure. Measure it (or have it checked) no less than every 3-6 months and document the results. These days you can find blood pressure machines in many pharmacies or retail stores, so it’s very easy to check your own blood pressure. And it’s quite common for it to be measured when you go to any doctor appointment. Be sure to ask for the results – some nurses just measure it and write it down without telling you.
As someone with diabetes you’re looking for maximum values between 140 mmHg systolic (upper number) and 85 mmHg diastolic (lower number). It’s important to know that these numbers will move around a lot. But if you’re seeing higher numbers, your doctor needs to know about it.
For non-insulin-dependent diabetics, this diabetes test should be done annually, as it provides information about how much insulin your pancreas is producing on its own. It’s easily checked for with your routine labs. Unfortunately, it’s often “forgotten,” which is why you need to specifically ask for it and keep track of it.
4. Ultrasound of the carotid arteries
This exam is done by a radiologist and shows whether calcification can be seen in the vessels. The study gives an indication of the overall health of your vascular system, although it can’t verify all of the vessels.
5. Diabetic Eye Exam
Eye complications usually develop very slowly, and most often with no obvious symptoms or visual impairment. High blood sugars cause micro-vascular damage, and this also applies to the tiny small blood vessels of the retina causing diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic eye exams (these are different than your normal vision exams) by a qualified retinal specialist should be done at least once each year.
6. Diabetic Neuropathy
This diabetes test includes checking the function of the nerves in your feet (and hands) to the sensation of touch, temperature, pressure, and pain sensitivity. Your muscle reflexes and coordination may also be examined.
7. EKG and blood lipids
I would also recommend having a stress ECG performed and measuring your blood lipid levels, particularly cholesterol (LDL and HDL) and triglycerides, every six months.
Conclusion – peace of mind!
I think you’ll find, Monster Tamer, that you feel much more comfortable with a clear overview of your “total state of health!” After all, you probably perform regular service on your car, right? Why not have the same peace of mind with yourself so you and your monster can sleep in peace!
Remember! Before taking any action, please talk with your doctor about what is best for you.