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Stay on top of your health by monitoring, testing, and recognizing changes.

Your checklist for diabetes includes testing A1C for blood glucose, monitoring your blood pressure, and having your cholesterol tested on a regular basis. It’s important to be aware of any changes in your body that could be a sign of a problem. Check in regularly with your health care provider to stay on top of your health.

A woman with diabetes checking her insulin level

A1C test

Track your blood-glucose level over time with the A1C test.

A simple blood-glucose test, called A1C, can regularly estimate your average blood-glucose (eAG) levels over a period of two to three months. It does this by measuring how much glucose gets attached to your red blood cells. Because new red blood cells are always being made to replace older ones, your A1C will change over time too.

  • Have your provider measure your A1C at least twice per year.
  • Get tested more often if you’re changing diabetes care or medications.
  • The general healthy target for A1C is 7% (eAG of 154 mg/dl).
  • Studies show that for every one-point decrease in A1C, you reduce your risk of long-term diabetes complications by up to 40%.
  • Check your blood glucose with a meter, as directed/ordered/prescribed by your provider, even if you get your A1C test periodically.

Blood glucose

Why blood glucose goes lower or higher.

  • Too much food — like a meal or snack with more carbohydrates than normal
  • More physical activity or exercise than usual — physical activity makes the body sensitive to insulin and better able to use glucose for energy
  • Not enough insulin or oral diabetes medication
  • Side effects from other meds, such as steroids or antipsychotic meds
  • Illness — your body releases hormones to fight the illness, but they raise blood-glucose levels
  • Menstrual periods, which cause hormonal changes
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol, especially on an empty stomach

Foot care

Take special care of your feet.

People with diabetes are more likely to develop foot problems. Get regular care and use proper footwear. Otherwise, even ordinary problems can get worse and lead to serious complications, including:

  • Neuropathy Nerve damage that lessens your ability to feel heat, cold, or pain or injury.
  • Skin changes Dryness can lead to peeling or cracked skin that could get infected.
  • Calluses They build up quickly and can turn into open sores if not carefully trimmed.
  • Ulcers Open sores that can become infected and, if untreated, lead to loss of a limb.
  • Poor circulation It makes feet less able to fight infection.
  • Amputation Many people with diabetes have peripheral artery disease, putting them at higher risk for infection and limb amputation.