Type 2 Diabetic Tests, Why You Need Every One of Them

Type 2 diabetic tests - why does your doctor want so many? Here is a list of tests and why they are important to a type 2 diabetic.

The lab tests your doctor gives are an unexpected and often poorly explained part of being diabetic.

It may seem you are doing too many. Do you really need all the strange sounding blood tests you must get every few months?

What is your doctor looking for? Here is a list of five type 2 diabetic tests, who does them and why they are so necessary for your diabetic care.

The Phlebotomist

The person who draws blood at the lab or hospital is a a phlebotomist. She is trained to draw blood and handle it properly for every possible blood test.

Why are so many vials of blood needed? For every kind of test, blood has to be treated in a different way.

The phlebotomist has to use the right vial for each blood test. Then she labels each one carefully so that your vials do not get mixed with someone else's.

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This has become a very specialized field. But your phlebotomist is not a nurse and does not actually test your blood.

Some doctors prefer to let their own office nurses draw blood and then send it to a testing lab. Very few doctors have labs in their offices.

Because of costs the blood is tested in large central labs. You will never see the person who actually processes the blood tests.

It is your doctor who decides which tests will be done and how often. He bases this on the national standard of care, which is also how your insurance decides what it will pay for.

The tests have strange medical names but they are routine for diabetics. There are five things your doctors want to keep an eye on.

1. Testing Blood Sugar

You test your blood sugar at home, and your doctor uses the same fingerstick blood tests in her office. The nurse uses a glucose monitor just like the one you use.

If you bring your home monitor, you can compare your results with the one the nurse gets. This is a good way to find out the accuracy of your glucose monitor.

If you came to the office before you ate breakfast you will get a fasting blood sugar, but if you have already eaten the fingerstick test is called a random blood glucose.

The results are called good or too high based on when you last ate. In the first hour or two after a meal 180 is not too high, but three or four hours after you eat a good number is closer to 100.

Many diabetes doctors also do a hemoglobin A1C, one of the newest type 2 diabetic tests, at every three-month visit. It is a fingerstick blood sugar test, but you will have to wait about 6 minutes instead of 5 seconds to get a reading.

You will find out your number before you leave the doctor's office, and if it is 7 or below, it means you have been doing well with your glucose control the last few months.

If your doctor wants to diagnose diabetes, you might be given a glucose tolerance test, the gold standard among type 2 diabetic tests for finding out how your body reacts to glucose. It takes three hours or so and a few fingersticks.

2. Thyroid Tests

The thyroid panel begins with a TSH and is a group of blood tests to find out whether you are hyperthyroid, hypothyroid or euthyroid (normal). Many type 2 diabetics are either hypo- or hyperthyroid.

Why is this one of the type 2 diabetic tests? Having your thyroid out of whack may be part of the cause for diabetes. At the very least it can cause weight gain and difficult-to-control blood sugars.

If you are on thyroid medication the TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, test lets your doctor know if your medication is bringing those hormone levels into normal ranges.

The T3 and T4 tests are done to determine whether you have too much or too little thyroid hormone present in your blood. The TSH test is done first, and if the levels are not normal, your doctor will order a full thyroid panel.

If your levels are normal and you do not need medication for thyroid control you will not be tested with a TSH again, unless you start having symptoms of thyroid problems.

What symptoms? There are many but the most common are hair loss, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, problems with sleep, and weight gain or loss for no apparent reason.

3. Liver Testing

LFTs are liver function tests, and diabetics get them routinely because there is a high probability for abnormal liver functions with type 2 diabetes.

Also, those of us who take medications for high cholesterol and high blood pressure need regular testing because of possible liver side effects from those medications.

Two of the liver tests done often are the AST and ALT, both of which measure hepatic (liver) enzymes in your blood. Abnormal levels on these type 2 diabetic tests can mean liver damage of some kind.

As a type 2 diabetic you likely already have mildly high levels of AST and ALT. They are an early warning sign of prediabetes because they show up even before high blood glucose in a borderline diabetic.

You will get type 2 diabetic tests for LFTs regularly, every three months if you are on cholesterol medications.

Because insulin resistance goes along with fatty liver, your chance for liver disease gets worse with type 2 diabetes as long as you have poorly controlled blood sugar.

4. Tests to Uncover Early Kidney Disease

Since diabetic kidney disease can lead to dialysis and early death, type 2 diabetic tests to keep track of your kidney health are vital.

For most diabetics kidney problems start slowly and progress for a long time before there is an obvious illness. So these blood and urine tests are the front line defenders of your diabetic kidneys.

A urine test for microalbumin, or protein in your urine, lets your doctor know if your kidneys are having trouble.

The leakage of protein into your urine is called microalbuminuria, and it is easy to treat if it is detected early. The test is usually done every year.

A serum creatinine measures the amount of creatinine in your blood, and levels above normal let your doctor know that your kidneys are not filtering it out fast enough.

Creatinine comes from creatine, the acid that supplies energy so muscles can contract. Too much of it in your blood is a clear sign that your kidneys need some help.

Your yearly type 2 diabetic tests will signal kidney problems early so you can get the treatment you need.

5. Lipid Testing

A lipid profile is a fasting blood test that measures so-called good and bad cholesterol along with triglycerides. You know that high triglycerides are one of the symptoms that make up the metabolic syndrome.

If you lower your triglycerides it means you are probably doing a good job with your diabetic eating plan and exercise.

Type 2 diabetic tests for HDL and LDL cholesterol are measured as percentages of your total cholesterol. They are monitored for one very important reason. High "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides are a marker for heart disease.

Even though doctors are not sure of the connection, they have been able to lower the incidence of heart attacks by lowering cholesterol. Diabetics are already at twice the risk for heart disease.

That is a powerful reason to keep an eye on your numbers so your doctor can give you medication if they are too high.

You Need These Tests

Type 2 diabetic tests are designed to watch for the symptoms that affect your organs so you do not have to experience things like kidney disease and heart attacks.

Besides that, every medication you take to help with high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can cause side effects. That makes the blood and urine tests your doctor orders for you a great idea.

It may seem like you are giving blood every time you turn around, but those every-three-months tests will keep the complications from sneaking up on you.

It is good to know that better control of blood sugar with healthy eating and exercise leads to better results on your type 2 diabetic tests.

Get those tests done. When the doctor says it is time to go to the lab, you can know he has your best interests in mind.

  • "Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship." Ben Franklin

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