If it is hard to tell if you have type 2 or type 1 diabetes, your doctor may do a C-peptide test or an autoantibodies test. (Autoantibodies are produced when the body's immune system does not work right.) For example, many people with type 1 diabetes produce the autoantibody zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8Ab). People with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes do not produce ZnT8Ab. These tests may not be able to confirm the type of diabetes you have. Getting a definite diagnosis may take months or years. In either case, your blood sugar levels will need to be controlled right away.
Tests to check your health
You'll need to see your doctor every 3 to 6 months. At your visits, your doctor may:
- Check your blood sugar levels since your last visit and review your target range.
- Check your blood pressure and start or adjust treatment, if needed. Nerve and blood vessel damage can result from high blood pressure, leading to heart problems and strokes. For more information, see the topic High Blood Pressure.
- Check your feet for signs of problems, especially if you have had diabetes for a few years. Nerve damage in your feet makes it hard to feel an injury or infection. Take off your socks each time you see the doctor to be sure you both remember to check your feet. At least once a year your doctor will do a complete examination of your feet.
- Have a hemoglobin A1c test. This blood test shows how steady your blood sugar levels have been over time.
Review your progress regularly
Regular visits and checkups with your doctor are also a good time to:
- Review your meal plan.
- Review your physical activity.
- Review your mental health.
- Review your blood sugar records.
- Review your medicines.
These visits are also a good time to talk with your doctor about how you're feeling. It's normal to feel frustrated or overwhelmed with all there is to do. If you're having trouble coping, your doctor can help. And if your health is changing and you have complications from diabetes, work with your doctor to make the right medical decisions for you. With your health and quality of life in mind, problem-solve and plan with your doctor.
Tests to screen for complications
After you have had type 1 diabetes for 3 to 5 years, your doctor may recommend these tests.
- A complete eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. High blood sugar levels from diabetes can damage your eyes. This test can find problems early. If you do not have any signs of diabetic retinopathy, your doctor may recommend less frequent exams. For example, you may have this test every 2 years.
- A foot exam to check for diabetic neuropathy. Your doctor may look at your feet for sores and calluses at every visit. If you have one or more foot problems, you may need to have your feet checked more than once a year. A child who has diabetes may not need a thorough examination of his or her feet each year until after puberty.
- A cholesterol and triglyceride test. Along with other measures, cholesterol levels can help you know your risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
- A urine test, to check for protein. If protein is found, you'll have more tests to help guide the best treatment. Protein in the urine can be a sign of kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy).
- A blood test for creatinine and glomerular filtration rate (GFR). These tests check for kidney disease.
- A liver function test. This test looks for damage to the liver.
- A thyroid-stimulating hormone test. This test checks for thyroid problems, which are common among people who have diabetes. If the test is normal, your doctor may suggest you have the test again every 1 to 2 years.
See a list of tests to monitor diabetes to help you remember what to do and when.
- Dental exam. See your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning of your teeth and to look for gum disease. Seeing your dentist is one part of taking care of your teeth and gums when you have diabetes.
Eye exams during pregnancy
If you get pregnant, you will need to have an eye exam sometime during the first 3 months. You'll also need close follow-up during your pregnancy and for 1 year after you have your baby. Pregnancy may increase your risk for diabetic retinopathy. If you already have eye disease and get pregnant, the disease can quickly get worse.