The table below summarizes the tests that can be done to identify complications from type 2 diabetes, including those tests done during a physical exam. The physical exam evaluates your overall health. The doctor pays special attention to your eyes, blood vessels, heart, lungs, nerves, abdomen, and feet. Tests range from taking your blood pressure to drawing blood to test your cholesterol or kidney function.
Complications from diabetes and the tests used to detect them1
Organ or condition
What it shows
High blood sugar
Every 3 to 6 months, have a hemoglobin A1c test.
How steady your blood sugar levels have been over time
Less than 7% for most nonpregnant adults
Less than 7.5% for teens 13 to 19 years old
Less than 8% for children 6 to 12 years old
Less than 8.5% for children younger than 6 years of age
Every year, get your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels checked.
The amount of fat in your blood, which can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke
LDL less than 100 mg/dL (if you have heart disease, your doctor might recommend keeping it at 70 mg/dL)
HDL more than 40 mg/dL in men and more than 50 mg/dL in women
Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL
High blood pressure
Every 3 to 6 months when you visit your doctor, have your blood pressure checked. If you don't see your doctor that often, at least have your blood pressure checked once a year.
Pressure of blood flow in your arteries
Less than 120/80 for most people
High blood pressure is 140/80 or higher
In between these two levels is called prehypertension
Every year, get a urine test that checks for microalbumin, or small amounts of protein. If you have protein in your urine, it is a sign of kidney damage.
Every year, get a blood test for creatinine and glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
Whether kidney disease is developing
The stage of kidney disease, if you already have it
Less than 30 mg/g of protein in your urine
GFR greater than 60 mL/min
Every year, visit an ophthalmologist or an optometrist for a dilated eye exam (ophthalmoscopy). Some doctors may recommend less frequent eye exams if you have no signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Whether retinopathy (damage to back of the eye) has developed
No retinal damage
Every 3 to 6 months when you visit your doctor, take off your socks so you will both remember to check your feet. Once a year, get a more thorough examination of your feet. This is also known as a complete foot exam.
Whether foot ulcers have developed
Whether the person has lost any sensation
No foot ulcers or loss of sensation
Twice a year, have a dental exam.
Healthy gums and teeth
If you have high cholesterol, or if you are a woman over 50 years old, your doctor may recommend a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test.
Normal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level
Your doctor may recommend a liver function blood test, especially if you are taking a medicine that could affect your liver.
Normal liver function test