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Routine Healthcare Tips to Prevent Diabetes Complications

Last updated: November 2022

Managing a chronic condition such as diabetes is challenging, let alone navigating it through an ongoing pandemic. Even if your blood sugars have been well controlled, having diabetes can increase the risk of various diabetes-related complications.

Whether you have fallen behind on routine visits or lab work, it is important to remember all the regular care that can help prevent diabetes-related complications. Use this information to remind you why these tests and exams are important in your diabetes care.

Essential specialist visits

Foot care

Foot care is essential when you live with type 2 diabetes because of a greater risk of developing problems with your feet, such as neuropathy.

Visit a podiatrist every year for an annual foot exam. In the meantime, daily preventative measures you can take include:1

  • Perform a foot exam daily, inspecting the tops and bottoms of the feet.
  • Check your feet and between your toes for redness, swelling, skin breakdown, or calluses.

If you have any sensation loss or infections, contact your doctor immediately.

Eye exams

Regular eye exams are needed to check for eye-related issues or diseases, such as retinopathy. Visit an ophthalmologist or optometrist at the time of your type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Then, schedule an eye exam once per year.1

You should also have an exam any time you experience changes in vision, such as blurred vision or floaters.1

Dental exams

People with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of gum diseases, such as periodontal disease and other infections.2

You should schedule regular dental exams and cleanings every 6 months. If any issues develop with your teeth or gums, schedule an appointment with your dentist quickly.2

Routine physical exams

Visit the primary doctor managing your type 2 diabetes every 3 to 6 months (depending on your needs). They should discuss or perform routine tests and lab work at that time. These routine tests include:2,3

  • Hearing test: Annually or as-needed
  • Blood pressure reading: Measured at every visit

High blood pressure may increase your risk of stroke or heart attack. Blood pressure targets are unique to you based on your cardiovascular (heart condition) risk.

A blood pressure target of less than 130/80 mmHg may be recommended for people with higher cardiovascular risk. A target of 140/90 mmHg may be recommended for people with lower cardiovascular risk. Discuss what your target should be with your healthcare team.3

Lab work for type 2 diabetes care

Lipids panel

A lipids panel will measure cholesterol and triglycerides. This should be performed at least once per year. Having diabetes may increase your risk of heart disease.3

The LDL cholesterol target ranges for people with diabetes is 40 mg/dL for men and greater than 50 mg/dL for women. The target ranges for triglycerides is less than 150 mg/dL.3

Kidney tests

Kidney disease is a common complication of type 2 diabetes. The following tests should be completed yearly to measure kidney function:4

  • Microalbumin
  • Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)

Hemoglobin A1C test

The hemoglobin A1C test measures your average blood glucose over 90 days. It should be given every 3 to 6 months or as directed by your doctor. The target range for an A1c result is less than 7 percent.5

There is a lot to consider when managing type 2 diabetes. With this summary, you can ensure you get the care you need to avoid complications and feel better.

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