How Often to Get Checked for Complications


 

It’s hard to deny that one of the main reasons diabetes causes fear and denial is due to the possibility of complications that may come with it. You’ve probably heard stories of those who’ve suffered diabetes-related complications, so the fear is warranted. Though diabetes complications may occur, monitoring your blood glucose levels, as well as eye, dental, heart health, and more, can delay them. One of the most effective things you can do to stay on top of your health is by having timely, periodic visits to your doctor and other members of your healthcare team to get checked for complications. 

Here’s a rundown of common complications to keep in mind:

Cardiovascular disease: High blood pressure, cholesterol above normal levels, elevated glucose, and other factors increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, heart attacks, peripheral arterial disease, and congestive heart failure. If you experience signs and symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, please contact your doctor immediately.

Kidney disease and retinopathy: Caused by damage to the small blood vessels that affect blood flow. In the kidneys, it’s known as renal failure. In the eyes, untreated retinopathy can lead to blindness. Along with managing glucose levels, it’s important to also keep your blood pressure at healthy levels, too. 

Neuropathy: Damage to your nervous system. Neuropathy can cause digestive problems and erectile dysfunction. the most commonly affected areas are the limbs, particularly the feet. 

Peripheral neuropathy: Damage to the nerves of the limbs and it may present itself along with pain, tingling, and loss of sensitivity. This loss of sensitivity may let some injuries and ulcers go unnoticed, that in the case of an infection it can cause diabetic foot and therefore increasing the risk of an amputation.

Dental health: High blood glucose levels also can affect and cause damage to your teeth as it increases the risk of inflammation in the gums, called gingivitis, which is one of the causes for losing your teeth and even increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

How Often to Get Checked for Complications

Time can either work for or against you. We prefer to have it work for you. Think of periodic check-ins as preventative healthcare. Early detection is key and make treatments more effective and delay the progression of serious health issues. Read the chart below to know how often you should get checked for diabetes-related complications and the type of specialist you should see.

Check-up Specialist Time
Blood Pressure

Endocrinologist

General Practitioner 

Internal Medicine Specialist

Every visit with the doctor (3 to 6 months)
Weight
Feet
Mouth and Teeth Dentist Every 6 months
Eyes Ophthalmologist Diabetes Type 1. First review within the first 5 years of diagnosis.
Type 2 diabetes. ASAP after diagnosis. 
Annually if there’s no sign of retinopathy. 
Every 3-6 months if there is a presence of retinopathy. 
Nephropathy (kidney)

Endocrinologist

Nephrologist

Annually if there is no indicator of kidney damage.
Every 6 months if there are signs of kidney damage

Related Content:

Diabetes and Heart Disease

How to Give Yourself a Foot Exam

What is Retinopathy?

WRITTEN BY Eugenia Araiza, CDE Nutritionist, POSTED 03/06/20, UPDATED 03/06/20

Eugenia has a degree in Nutrition and is a Diabetes Educator. She was diagnosed with T1D 23 years ago. She currently works at https://www.facebook.com/healthydiabetesmx/ https://www.healthydiabetes.mx She enjoys studying and helping people manage their diabetes.