Could Testing Too Often Be Linked To Diabetes Complications?

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Over half of patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes are testing too often, according to an observational study published in the British Medical Journal. The study, which looked at outcomes among over 30,000 Americans with diabetes across 12 years, determined that adults who take the glycated hemoglobin test more often than recommended, face worse outcomes than patients who only test once or twice a year.

The glycated hemoglobin test is used to gauge the effectiveness of diabetes management in patients who have good control of their blood sugar, according to Medical News Today. People with diabetes are urged to have the test done one or two times annually, usually during regular checkups, as a way of giving their doctors a snapshot of how their medication is working.

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This study found that around 60 percent of subjects are getting the test more often than necessary, with nearly 6 percent getting tested five or more times a year. This creates problems for effective treatment, as monitoring too frequently gives doctors a false impression of how well the current treatment is working. While it may seem counterintuitive, too much data doesn’t improve the information doctors have to work with but instead crowds out the more accurate picture given by annual or semi-annual testing.

The study found a positive correlation between the number of tests people get in a year and the frequency of excessive medication. This is significant, since taking too much medication can lower patients’ blood sugar to potentially life-threatening levels and cause numerous complications associated with hypoglycemia.

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Managing blood sugar levels for people with diabetes requires striking a balance that can be tricky to achieve. Overmedication is not only wasteful, it’s potentially dangerous. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about testing and its role in determining care. Your doctor might encourage you to try breath testing as an alternative to excessive blood draws. Learn more, here!

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