Without or without diabetes, there are several life saving screening tests you should have done regularly. Tests indicate if a problem exists so it can be addressed sooner rather than later. Regular testing is important because early detection saves lives.
- High blood pressure screening should be done at least every two years for adults 18 and older. If results are higher than 130/85, blood pressure should be checked annually. People with diabetes are more prone to high blood pressure, especially if they are obese and have a sedentary lifestyle. The acceptable blood pressure for someone with diabetes is no higher than 130/80. Hypertension can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and eye problems. Eat a low fat and low sodium diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Consider the DASH diet that you can easily pull up on line. Exercise regularly for a half hour a day, five days a week. Test yourself frequently by using a blood pressure cuff at home. Do not smoke.
- Dermatology exams should be scheduled annually for adults over the age of 18. Melanoma accounts for the most skin cancer deaths every year. A dermatologist can also detect skin complications related to diabetes including bacterial infections, fungal infections, itching from poor circulation and more. Skin is the body’s largest organ and reflects its overall health. Wear sunscreen when outside.
- Cholesterol and blood sugar testing should be done on all adults over 20 at least once every five years. Testing is done more frequently when people are overweight, have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, have a sedentary lifestyle or have diabetes. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease and other health problems. Elevated blood sugar could be a sign of pre-diabetes, diabetes or gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Avoid fried foods. Cook by grilling, baking or broiling instead. Get exercise everyday to improve circulation and burn fat and build muscle. Steer clear of sugary and salty snacks.
- Cancer screening is important for men and women. Diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease which can make patients more vulnerable to complications if they get other diseases. Research now tells us people with diabetes are more at risk for cancer. Women need an annual Pap test to detect cervical cancer by the age of 21 or three years after becoming sexually active. At age 40, women should get a mammogram every two years to detect breast cancer. Starting at age 50, men and women should get a colonoscopy every ten years to detect colon cancer.
- Osteoporosis screening is recommended for women ages 65 and older. People with diabetes are more prone to developing bone disorders. Osteoporosis puts you at an increased risk for fractures and other bone problems. Eating a diet rich in calcium is a way to help prevent osteoporosis. Get your Vitamin D levels checked.
- Eye examinations should be done annually from the time a child enters school. Your vision is evaluated and a glaucoma test is given. Poor eye health can reveal other physical complications such as diabetes or high blood pressure. People with diabetes are prone to other vision and eye problems and should see an eye doctor at least once a year.
- Dental examinations should be done annually from the time you get your first teeth as a child. Dental infections can increase blood glucose levels. Periodontal disease is associated with heart disease and stroke. People with diabetes are susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal disease. A dentist can find out more about your teeth and overall health during annual dental exams.
Life screening tests help keep you healthier and can add years to your life. Detecting problems early makes it possible to treat them. Whether you diabetes or not, these tests evaluate your overall health so you know when lifestyle changes need to be made.