Exams and Tests

Diagnostic tests

If your doctor thinks that you may have diabetes, he or she will order blood tests to measure how much sugar is in your blood. The tests used are:

Your doctor will use your blood test results and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) criteria to diagnose diabetes. He or she will also do a medical history and physical exam.

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:

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.

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Tests to screen for complications

After you have had type 1 diabetes for 3 to 5 years, your doctor may recommend these tests.

See a list of tests to monitor diabetes to help you remember what to do and when.

Dental checkups

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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

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