Checking Your Blood Glucose
One of the most resented, yet important, aspects of diabetes is checking your blood glucose. Regardless of your type, or if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, checking your blood glucose is important. Knowing your blood sugar levels allows you to alter your diabetes management strategy. If your blood sugar levels are unstable, an altered strategy will help you get back on a healthy track. Also, regular testing of your blood sugar can help reduce your risk of long-term complications from diabetes.
What to use
The main tool that is available to help control your diabetes is blood glucose monitoring. It can tell you your blood glucose level at any one time, which can help alleviate any accidents or problems associated with low or high blood sugar. It’s vital to keep a log of your results, so you and your doctor can have a good picture of your body's response to your current diabetes care plan.
Anyone with diabetes can benefit from checking their blood glucose. However, The American Diabetes Association especially recommends blood glucose checks if you have diabetes and are:
- Taking insulin or diabetes pills
- on intensive insulin therapy
- having a hard time controlling your blood glucose levels
- having severe low blood glucose levels or ketones from high blood glucose levels
- having low blood glucose levels without the usual warning signs
How to check
All meters are slightly different, so always refer to your user's manual for specific instructions. If you are still unsure, you should call your physician and they will help you understand your glucose meter.
- After washing your hands, insert a test strip into your meter.
- Use your lancing device on the side of your fingertip to get a drop of blood.
- Gently squeeze or massage your finger until a drop of blood forms. (Required sample sizes vary by meter.)
- Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood, and wait for the result.
- Your blood glucose level will appear on the meter's display.
If you don’t like to use your finger, there are some meters that can give you an accurate reading by simply using your forearm, thigh or the fleshy part of your hand. Also, there are spring-loaded lancing devices that make sticking yourself less painful. If you end up having to use your fingertip, you can avoid having sore spots on the frequently used parts of your finger by sticking the side of your fingertip by your fingernail.
How often to check
Blood sugar testing is usually recommended before meals, after meals, and at bedtime. Frequency and timing of blood sugar measurements should be individualized. Your health care provider will tell you when and how often you should check your blood sugar and it may change depending on your diet, daily routine, and exercise regimen.
Analyzing the results
Understanding your results may take time- be patient. First thing you should do is take a close look at your blood glucose record to see if your level is too high or too low for several days in a row at about the same time. If you are seeing the same problems over and over again, then it may be time to adjust your plan. If you are unsure what the results mean, consult your doctor or diabetes professional and they will help you.
As diabetes specialists, we understand that blood glucose results can often trigger strong feelings. Although you may feel upset, confused, frustrated, or downright angry about your results, it’s important to remind yourself that your blood glucose level is simply a way to track how well your diabetes care plan is working and not a judgment of you as a person.