There are many ways to improve your health and diabetes symptoms.
To ensure you stay healthy, people with diabetes, should undergo a number of important health checks each year. Some of the checks are ones which you should receive at least once each year and others are dependent on specific circumstances.
Blood glucose control check – HbA1c test. This may be carried out either via a blood sample taken from your arm, or if it is the only blood check, via a finger prick test. Everyone with diabetes mellitus in the UK should be offered an HbA1c test at least once a year. Some people may have an HbA1c test more often. This may be more likely if you have recently had your medication changed or your health team are otherwise wishing to monitor your diabetes control more than once a year. Although HbA1c level alone does not predict diabetes complications, good control is known to lower the risk of complications.
Blood lipid check – cholesterol test – As someone with diabetes, your level of cholesterol should be tested once a year. To test your blood for cholesterol, a sample of blood will need to be taken, usually via syringe from a vein on the inside of your elbow. Cholesterol levels are linked with a higher risk of heart disease and strokes, which are generally more common in people with diabetes. Blood samples will usually require you to arrange for the blood test to be taken at least a couple of weeks before your annual diabetic care review. So check with your local GP practice when these blood test should be done.
Kidney function check – Two different tests are carried out to check for kidney problems. For the first check, a urine sample is needed. Ideally you should bring your urine sample with you to your diabetic care review. The urine test looks for the presence of protein in the urine. No protein in the urine is a good sign.
The second check is done via a blood sample which checks the glomerular filtration rate of the kidneys; in other words, how well the kidneys are functioning. Find out more about kidney function tests Here
Blood pressure check – Your blood pressure will usually be measured at your clinic or diabetic care review. The test is not complicated but you will need to be in a rested state whilst your blood pressure is being checked to prevent the reading being higher than it should be. People’s blood pressure can rise in a short space of time and the doctor or nurse may need to repeat the test if a high reading is recorded. More about blood pressure can be found HERE
Retinopathy screening – Each year you should be offered a retinopathy screening check. The check involves having a photograph taken of your retina at the back of your eye. The retinopathy check may be carried out at a hospital or at an opticians. Your doctor or local retinopathy service should inform you of where you can have your retinopathy test performed. The test looks for eye problems caused by diabetes. Eye problems caused by diabetes are called diabetic retinopathy. This can lead to sight loss if it’s not found early. The eye screening test can find problems before they affect your sight. If you have diabetes and you’re aged 12 or over, you’ll get a letter asking you to have your eyes checked at least once a year.
Foot examinations – As with all of the above, feet checks should be performed at least once a year. At the foot check, the doctor or nurse will look for signs of damage to the skin (such as cuts, burns, blisters or ulcers), will check your circulation and test the level of feeling in your feet for any signs of neuropathy (nerve damage). This is because your diabetes can lead to serious foot problems and these can lead to amputations. In most cases, serious foot problems can be prevented. You can do this by checking your feet yourself every day, and having a foot check at least once a year. Find out more about foot checks Here
Weight checks – You should have your weight checked at each diabetic care review or clinic, even if you’re a healthy weight. If you are overweight, you should have your waist measured as well. Keeping at a healthy weight is important for managing your diabetes and if your are currently over weight there are lots of benefits to losing weight with or without diabetes. You can find out more about being a healthy weight Here and if you want to lose weight there is loads of help and advice Here
Having a healthy lifestyle with a diagnosis of diabetes is important as it can help with your symptoms and over all health. So keeping a healthy weight as already mentioned, staying physically active and stopping smoking if you still smoke will help you manage your diabetes better. See the Healthy Living section in the ‘My Health pages’ for general advice or find out more about healthier living with diabetes Here