Type 1 Diabetes Questions and Answers

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Type 1 Diabetes Questions and Answers

What special tests and exams do I need?

Diabetes self-management involves taking your insulin and other medications, eating healthfully, staying active and, of course, checking your blood sugar. But how do you know if everything you’re doing is working for you? And how can you minimize your risk of complications? There are certain tests and exams that you’ll need to help you and your health-care team know how you’re doing. These include:

Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c, or A1C, for short)

This is a number that measures your average blood glucose over the past 2–3 months. For most people with diabetes, the A1C goal is less than 7%. Get your A1C checked two to four times a year.

Blood pressure

To help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney problems, it’s important to keep your blood pressure in a safe range, typically less than 140/90.

Blood lipids

High cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) raise your risk of heart disease. Your lipids include total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. In general, total cholesterol should be under 200; LDL less than 100; HDL greater than 40 for men and greater than 50 for women; and triglycerides less than 150.

Kidney function

A microalbumin test checks your urine for protein; if your microalbumin is above 30, it may be an early sign of kidney damage.

Dilated eye exam

A dilated eye exam can detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy, as well as other eye problems related to diabetes. Make sure you have a dilated eye exam at least once a year or as ordered by your eye care specialist.

Foot exam

Checking your feet daily is important to detect cuts, sores, redness or swelling. But your doctor should check your feet at least once a year during a regular office visit to check for problems with circulation, sensation, foot structure and infection. Remove your shoes and socks at each visit to remind your doctor to check your feet.

Dental exams

Diabetes can affect the health of your gums and teeth, and gum disease is more common in people with diabetes. Have regular dental exams and teeth cleanings at least twice a year to detect and treat gum disease and other oral health issues.


While not actual “tests,” it’s important to make sure you receive certain vaccinations if you have type 1 diabetes. These include a yearly influenza vaccine, a pneumonia vaccine, a hepatitis vaccine, and a shingles vaccine. Other vaccines may be recommended for you, as well.

Make sure you talk with your doctor or endocrinologists about the tests and exams that you need. Ask about your results and be sure you that you know what your goals are, as well.

Want to learn more about type 1 diabetes? Read “The Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis,” “Top 10 Tips for Better Blood Glucose Control” and “Be Aware of Hypoglycemia Unawareness.”

Originally Published July 23, 2019
Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES on social media

A Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Good Measures, LLC, where she is a CDE manager for a virtual diabetes program. Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition & Meal Planning, a co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, and has written for  publications including Diabetes Self-Management, Diabetes Spectrum, Clinical Diabetes, the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation’s newsletter, DiabeticConnect.com, and CDiabetes.com

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