3 Diabetes Tests You Must Have
When Ellis was first diagnosed, his A1c results were 7.2%. Now, after following his doctor's prescription of a healthy diet and plenty of exercise (Ellis spends 30 minutes on a stationary bike every night while he watches TV), his A1c levels are in the 6% range. Instead of having an A1c test every 3 months, the recommended norm for people with diabetes, Ellis goes in every 6 months.
"My doctor said, 'I wish everyone would follow the instructions like you do,'" he says.
Dilated Eye Exam
High blood sugar and high blood pressure can do a number on the tiny blood vessels in your eyes, but the damage can be prevented if your doctor spots it early. The best way to do that? A yearly dilated eye exam. With the help of eyedrops that enlarge your pupils for a short time, your eye doctor will examine the inside of your eyes for signs of leaky blood vessels. It's a painless test, but you won't be able to see clearly for a few hours afterward.
Ellis was diagnosed with a type of diabetic retinopathy called macular edema. It causes the leaky blood vessels that lead to swelling and blurred vision. His condition was so advanced that his eye doctor could see the bleeding in his retina without even dilating his eyes. Now he gets his eyes dilated and tested every 3 months. He also gets bi-monthly injections of a drug that blocks the leaks. He'll have to do it for the rest of his life. But it's a small price to pay.
"My ophthalmologist told me he didn't think I'd ever get my eyesight back," he says.
Diabetes can also slow circulation in your feet and legs and cause you to lose feeling there. That's why the American Diabetes Association says you should get an annual foot exam.
Your doctor will check them for redness, cracks, sores, or open wounds. He'll look for weird problems (like overlapping toes); and he'll do a monofilament test. You’ll close your eyes and he'll simply press a piece of nylon to various parts of your foot. If you can’t feel it, you might have nerve damage. He may also tap on your Achilles tendon to see if the nerves on the back of your ankle are in good condition. A clue that they are? Your foot will point downward automatically.
Don't wait for a yearly exam to give your feet the once-over. Rizza suggests you check them every day at home. Wearing well-fitted shoes and socks that absorb moisture will also help.