Diabetes is a condition in which the level of glucose in the blood, also known as blood sugar, is higher than normal. Your body turns food into blood glucose. For most people, insulin tells their cells to absorb this glucose and use it for energy. But for people with diabetes, their cells do not produce or respond to insulin, so the glucose stays in the blood. This can cause other health problems if it is not treated.
Important Tests and Screenings
First, you must know the ABC's of diabetes. “A” is for hemoglobin A1c (also seen as HbA1c), “B” stands for blood pressure and “C” is for cholesterol.
A1c lab test – An A1c test result reflects a person’s average blood sugar levels for the past two to three months. The result from an A1c test should be less than 7.0%. If it is higher than 7.0%, work with your provider or diabetes educator to help you lower it. Individuals who have poorly controlled diabetes or are making changes to their medication, should get this test every three months. For individuals with well-controlled diabetes, A1c testing should be done every 6 months.
Blood pressure – People with diabetes have a greater risk of having high blood pressure. Your provider should check your blood pressure at every visit. Ask your provider what your numbers are and what your target blood pressure should be.
Cholesterol (Lipid panel) - This measures the total cholesterol, HDL (good), LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in your blood. These levels help rate your risk for heart disease. Adults with diabetes should have this test at least once a year.
These three tests give you and your provider a chance to find problems early, when they are easier to treat. Talk to your provider about creating a testing schedule that is right for you.
Diabetes can damage many different parts of your body. It is important to keep up with your tests, even if you do not have any serious symptoms.
Here are other important tests to have if you have diabetes to prevent future complications:
Dilated eye exam (at least once a year) - Your eyes should be checked at least once a year by an eye care provider (optometrist or ophthalmologist). Drops will be used to dilate your pupils and check the back of your eye for possible damage caused by your diabetes. Some serious outcomes of diabetes may include poor vision and blindness.
Urine test (at least once a year) – A test called microalbumin checks for kidney disease (nephropathy). If you have kidney disease, you may need to change your diet to lower how much salt and protein you eat. Kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, dialysis, and kidney transplant.
Foot exam (at each provider visit) – Your provider should check your feet at each visit to look for cuts, sores, or calluses that you may not notice due to nerve damage. Sores on the feet heal slower in people who have diabetes and can lead to infection and loss of a limb. You should also check your feet daily.
Steps to Managing your Diabetes
Step 1: See your provider
Your provider and diabetes care team will help you learn how to control your diabetes. Be sure to visit your provider if you have questions or need a recommended screening.
Step 2: Eat a healthy diet
A balanced diet is the key to managing your diabetes. You should have a custom plan that works for you. Contact your provider or dietician if you do not have a diet plan.
Step 3: Exercise every day
Exercise will help you keep your weight down. This helps to lower your blood sugar and gives you more energy. Always check with your provider about how much exercise you should do. If you are new to exercising, start slowly.
Step 4: Test/check your blood sugar
Monitoring your blood sugar will help you control your diabetes. It will also help you know if your diet, diabetes pills, or insulin are keeping your blood sugar under control.
Step 5: Take your diabetes pills or insulin
Common medications used to lower blood sugar are diabetes pills and insulin shots. Diabetes pills are used if your body makes insulin, but the insulin is not lowering your blood sugar. You will need insulin shots if your body has either stopped making insulin or does not make enough of it. Talk to your provider about the best option for you.
- Molina has a Weight Management & Nutrition Consultation program available to members at no cost. Members living with diabetes may qualify for a benefit called the Molina Healthy Living with Diabetes® Program. For more information on these programs, please call our Health Management Department at (866) 891-2320, ext. 751135.
- Use the Diabetes Care Schedule to stay on track with diabetes self-checks, exams, and appointments throughout the year.
- Learn about the basics of diabetes, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes here.
- Click here to learn more about living with diabetes.
Did you know? Molina Healthcare gives Apple Health (Medicaid) members Amazon.com Gift Cards for getting diabetes-related management and tests and other important screenings. For more information, click here.
If you need nonemergency transportation for medical and behavioral appointments (Apple Health [Medicaid]), please visit: hca.wa.gov/transportation-help.