How Often to Check A1C When Your Diabetes Is Controlled
Last updated: March 2022
I recently had a doctor’s appointment. It was a regular 3-month checkup which I schedule to check my A1c and discuss general concerns and questions I have. My A1c at the checkup before this one was 7.8 which isn’t that great. I did have concerns my A1c was still in the high range and that it may not have come down to where I want it. Until it is where I want it, I think I will always have that concern. My provider did bring up an interesting question I had to ponder for a second before giving her my answer, but have thought about it even more since I left.
How often should you have your A1c checked?
Her question to me was if my A1c came down again this appointment, would I want to change my appointments from every 3 months to every 6 months? Pretty quickly I told her I wanted every 3 months because I want to know what my A1c was at that frequency. She said she asked because she thought maybe every 3 months was difficult for me to attend. This did bring up the thought if it was necessary to continue with every 3 months or switch to a biannual appointment schedule.
Benefits and downsides of having A1c checked every 3 months
What is the benefit of appointments every 3 months compared to every 6 months? This is the question I need to answer. The benefit to every 3 months is accountability. With appointments every 3 months, I don’t have time to eat garbage or slack on exercising and blood sugar checks. A1c checks your average blood sugar level over a 2 to 3-month period. Mentally, I know if I have an appointment every 6 months, I can slack on my diet for 3 months and it would never show on a test and could look like I am doing well for 6 months when in reality I was not as good as I think. As far as downsides, there aren’t any other than more copays and cost and extra needle sticks, and neither of those really bother me.
Benefits and downsides of having A1c checked every 6 months
The benefit to appointments every 6 months is testing myself to see if I can stay on top of my diet even when my doctor will never know if I cheated the first few months after an appointment. There is also the benefit of saved money and less blood work. Once I get to a point where my diet is easier to maintain and I lose the urge to cheat, 6 months may be an option. For those that do have controlled diabetes, I would imagine this would work best for them.
There are some downsides to every 6 months. The first is a lack of accountability. You don’t have to follow a good diet or exercise for 3 months because the tests will never show it. If your A1c fluctuates, you don’t want to go more than 3 months because you have not controlled your diabetes, which is where I feel like I am at right now. There are too many terrible complications that result from diabetes to risk skipping two A1c tests a year just to save a few bucks. Personally, I am going to stick to appointments every 3 months because my health is worth the two extra trips to the doctor’s office.
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