Blood sugar testing is one of the most important part of caring for yourself if you are diabetic. You have to know when you should test blood sugar levels, how to use your meter and many other pieces of information. As a diabetic, you have to be able to test your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels regularly. This will stop you from experiencing the complications that diabetes can cause. This is best done by using a blood glucose test, which you will use an electronic device for.
Why You Should Test Your Levels of Blood Glucose
Self-monitoring your blood sugar is hugely important in managing your diabetes. This will help you to determine:
• Whether your treatment goals are being reached
• Whether your diet and exercise plan is affecting your levels
• Whether other factors affect your levels, such as stress or illness
• How well your medication is working
• Whether your levels are dangerous (both because they can be too high or too low)
When You Should Test Your Levels
When you are diagnosed with diabetes, you will receive a huge range of information from your physician. This will include when and how to test your levels. However, the frequency of blood glucose monitoring usually depends mainly on the type of diabetes you have. As such:
• Those with type 1 diabetes usually have to test their sugar levels three times a day at least. This is usually before and/or after set meals or exercise. Those with type 1 also often have to test before they go to sleep and, sometimes, they have to wake up during the night to test. If people are going through an illness or other major affairs such as changing medication or routines, they may require more frequent testing.
• Those with type 2 diabetes sometimes have to take insulin. If they do, they usually have to test every time they take insulin. This is usually done after fasting or before a meal. Those who do not take insulin may not have to test every day.
Understanding Target Ranges
There are a number of factors that will help a physician decide what your target range should be. Some of these factors include:
• The type of diabetes you have and how sever it is
• How old you are
• How long you have had diabetes
• Whether you are pregnant
• Whether you are experiencing any diabetes complications
• Your overall health
However, a number of target levels are set as standard, which will deviate slightly depending on the above factors. The normal blood glucose range should be:
• Levels between 70 and 130 mg/dL before meals
• Levels below 180 mg/dL an hour or two after a meal
• Levels between 90 and 130 mg/dL after fasting for eight hours or more
How Testing Blood Glucose Level Works
When you test your blood sugar levels, you will use a glucose meter. This electronic device uses a tiny amount of blood, which you will generally take from your finger, to read how much sugar is in your blood. The device should be provided to you by your diabetes educator or other physician. They will also teach you how the device should be used and they should ask you to show them you still use it appropriately every so often during consultation. The process generally works following seven steps:
1. Wash and dry your hands properly.
2. Remove a strip from your container and ensure it is closed again properly.
3. Place the strip in the meter.
4. Use the lancet to prick the side of your finger, which will stop you from developing painful areas on your finger where you actually use it.
5. Massage or squeeze your finger until you see a spot of blood.
6. Touch the blood (not your finger) with the strip.
7. Place the strip in the meter to view your results.
Recording Your Blood Glucose Levels
It is very important to keep track of your readings, so you can better identify the causes of any deviations. Hence, you should record the date and time and the result itself, but also what sort of medication you are on, what the dosage is, whether you have exercised and what your diet is like. There are useful mobile apps to help you with this, although printable logs also exist. Whenever you have a doctor’s appointment, you should bring your log with you and discuss any abnormal results.
Avoiding Issues with Your Blood Glucose Monitor
You have to make sure that your meter is properly maintained. There are a few tips that will help you make sure you get the most out of your meter:
• Always follow the manual and don’t assume two devices are exactly the same.
• Do not use blood samples that are too big or too small, which will also be indicated in the instruction manual.
• Ensure the batteries are changed frequently.
• Use the right kind of test strips and make sure they are stored right.
• Never use any test strips that have expired.
• Follow the instructions in terms of cleaning your device and run the quality control tests that should be indicated.
• Read the troubleshooting tips that should be included in your manual.
• If you have any further questions, bring your device with you to your next doctor’s appointment.