To keep an eye on potential complications of diabetes, people with diabetes must have regular health check-ups and tests. These will continue through adult life. Here is a general program of continuing care recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

Every 3 to 6 months

Regular doctor visit -- the doctor will check weight and blood pressure. (Doctor visits should be more frequent if diabetes is not yet controlled.)

Hemoglobin A1c test -- this lab test shows the average amount of glucose that has been in the blood over the last 3 months. It is an indicator of how well the diabetes is being controlled. (Again, this should be done more often if diabetes is not yet controlled.)

Every year

Kidney exam -- this urine test looks for "microalbumin" levels, and it should begin at puberty once the person has had diabetes at least 5 years.

Eye exam -- starting at age 10, all children with diabetes should have eyes checked once a year.

Foot exam -- the doctor should check pulse, reflexes, calluses, infections, and sores once a year. (Adults with high-risk foot conditions should be checked more frequently.)

Every 5 years

HDL/cholesterol test -- for adults, this test should be done every year, and more often if being treated for high cholesterol.


Vargas RB, Mangione CM, Asch S, et al. Can a chronic care model collaborative reduce heart disease risk in patients with diabetes? J Gen Internl Med. 2007;22:215-222.

Fong DS, Aiello L, Gardner TW, et al. Retinopathy in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:S84-S87.

Bloomgarden ZT. Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes Care. 2007;30:760-765.

Frykberg RG, Zgonis T, Armstrong DG, et al. Diabetic foot disorders: a clinical practice guideline. J Foot Ankle Surg. 2006;45(5 suppl):S1-S66.

Endre ZH, Beaven D, Buttimore A. Preventable kidney failure: The cost of diabetes neglect? N Z Med Jl. 2006;119:U2338.

Gordois A, Scuffham P, Shearer A, et al. The healthcare costs of diabetic nephropathy in the United States and the United Kingdom. J Diabetes Complications. 2004;18:18-26.

McPhee SJ, Papadakis MA, Tierney LM eds. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2007. 46th ed. New York: Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill, 2007.


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Review Date: 5/10/2007

Reviewed By: Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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