Time for your annual checks

Sister Lynette Lacock explains why annual checks are imperative for people living with diabetes.

Why annual checks?

Diabetes is a complicated chronic condition that effects many areas of your body. Uncontrolled diabetes is a major risk factor for deterioration of your health. It’s important to know the condition of your eyes, feet, teeth, heart and kidneys. To do this, you need to have a yearly assessment and learn how to keep these areas healthy and problem free.


Sometimes a rapid deterioration in eyesight is the first sign of diabetes. Elevated blood glucose affects the capillaries, feeding the retina in the back of your eye which will affect your vision. People with diabetes are also prone to cataracts and glaucoma.

This annual check is much more than reading an eye chart to check your vision. You should expect your doctor to dilate your eyes with drops and look into your eyes with special magnified lenses.

Finding problems early and being treated will go a long way in preserving your eyesight.


Checking your feet daily is vital. Note any cracks or sores that aren’t healing, changes in the nails or colour of the skin. Even changes in sensation can mean you need to see your doctor before your annual check-up.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to peripheral neuropathy which means you may not feel that your shoes are too tight or that they are giving you blisters. If you already have decreased sensation, then paying attention to your feet is imperative.

Diabetes can also cause circulatory problems that cause delayed healing. For this reason, if you have a cut or ulcer that isn’t healing on its own you need to see your doctor as soon as possible.


Seeing your dentist regularly will not only help you keep your teeth clean and gums healthy, but it can also reduce the risk of heart disease.

Cleaning and flossing your teeth regularly will decrease the amount of bacteria in your mouth so there is less bacteria to get into your bloodstream therefore reducing your risk of heart attack.

On an annual visit, your dentist will check for cavities and gum disease. While you are there, book an appointment with the oral hygienist and have your teeth cleaned.

Remember with elevated glucose levels you’ll already be more prone to infections and gum disease, so this check is important.


Having diabetes makes it more likely that you will suffer from heart disease. Therefore, you need take special care to keep your heart in the best shape possible.

There are multiple tests your doctor can do to check your heart depending on your age, condition and symptoms. These tests may include the following:

Electrocardiogram checks the electrical circuitry.

Echocardiogram or ultrasound to check heart and its blood supply.

Stress Test to see how your heart reacts to physical activity.

Coronary angiogram to measure and possibly widen vessels.


Hypertension and uncontrolled blood glucose can cause kidney damage over time. So, first and foremost you must keep these two conditions under control. Once damaged it can’t be reversed.

One of the first signs that there is damage to the kidneys filtering system is protein in the urine. This can be determined from a urine test in your doctor’s rooms. They may also want to draw blood and check kidney function by looking at how well they filter waste from the blood.

It’s also essential to let your doctor know if you have any symptoms of a bladder infection, such as frequent urination, burning and cloudy urine. An untreated bladder infection can lead to kidney damage as well.

Final thought

You may have noticed that all these check-ups have something in common: checking for problems related to microcirculation. Because diabetes can affect the small blood vessels, it will also affect the health of the organ or tissue they are supplying blood and oxygen to.

As explained before, the main culprits are uncontrolled blood glucose and hypertension. By checking your blood glucose levels and blood pressure regularly and making sure it’s within normal limits, you will prevent some of the progressive damage that occurs when you have diabetes.

Knowing the results of your annual checks will empower you to stay on top of your diabetes and to do your best to keep yourself healthy and prevent future problems.







Sr Lynette Lacock


Sr Lynette Lacock received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and Biofeedback Certification in Neurofeedback in the US. She has over 30 years’ experience in healthcare which has enabled her to work in the US, UK and South Africa. Initially specialising in Cardiothoracic and Neurological ICU, she now works as an Occupational Health Sister. She is passionate about teaching people how to obtain optimum health while living with chronic conditions.

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