Regular diabetes checkups help you stay healthy

An annual doctor visit is a good idea, especially for people managing a chronic illness like diabetes.

Diabetes calls for a daily routine of managing blood sugar with medicine and diet. Keeping blood sugar in a normal range is important for overall health. High blood sugar levels over time can lead to damage of the eyes, kidneys and circulation.

That damage can lead to all kinds of problems that are best to avoid. So, it’s important for people with diabetes to see their doctor at least once a year. This is the time to be screened for:

  • A1C – a long-term measure of blood sugar level.
  • Vision – uncontrolled diabetes causes changes in the retina or excess fluid, which results in blurred vision. This requires a special eye exam.
  • Kidneys – high blood sugar makes kidneys work extra hard, and damage to blood vessels also hurts kidney function.
  • Feet – diabetes can damage circulation and nerve endings, causing some people to stop feeling heat or cold. People can get ulcers on their feet when this happens.

When caught early, damage to eyes, feet or kidneys can be fixed or slowed down. That’s why the yearly screenings are important.

“Working together, you and your primary care provider make a strong team to give you the best chance to stay well, even if you do have diabetes,” says Mary Engrav, MD, a medical director at CareOregon.

Here are a few tips for your yearly visit.

  • Have your blood glucose log ready. Some doctors may even ask you to send it before the visit.
  • Make sure your list of medications and supplements, prescription and over-the-counter, is up to date.
  • Write down any symptoms you’ve been having, and any questions you have.
  • Be prepared to talk about any lab results you’ve had, or to talk about scheduling some screenings.
  • Feel free to ask about any changes you should make in your treatment or in your daily routines, such as food and exercise, to help improve your test numbers.

“Don’t be afraid or shy of bringing symptoms up with your primary care provider, even if your visit is supposed to be for something else,” Dr. Engrav says. “Your doctor will help you get the treatment or screenings you need, or reassure you if you’re OK.”

Managing diabetes well every day pays off with better health, mobility and quality of life.


Learn more: American Diabetes Association

Medication chart: careoregon.org/meds