Tips For Checking Your Blood Sugar With Less Pain
Fingertips have more nerve endings, so this part of the finger tends to be the most sensitive.
If you use a finger prick to check your blood sugar level, a few techniques can make the process less painful whether youre using a glucometer or a continuous glucose monitor.
Blood sugar testing is crucial to diabetes management because high or low blood sugar can cause severe complications. If too much blood sugar accumulates in your bloodstream, you can experience major complications such as:
- nerve damage
- difficulty speaking
Blood sugar can fluctuate throughout the day especially after meals, after exercising, and during stressful events. So its important to carefully monitor your blood sugar and keep it within a healthy range.
A blood sugar level less than 140 milligrams per deciliter , but greater than 70 mg/dL is typically considered in the target range.
You should check your blood sugar regularly, even if you arent experiencing symptoms of a high or low glucose level. Some people with high and low blood sugar dont have any symptoms.
How Cgms Change Life With Diabetes
The idea here is empowerment, as these devices provide some serious medical and lifestyle benefits.
First off, you can literally see in real-time the effects of food and exercise on your blood glucose levels, and can catch cases of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia as they happen, avoiding the potentially dangerous consequences. This is a huge advantage over historic static blood glucose monitoring, which only provided a single glucose reading at a time.
Theres also the convenience factor. CGMs can essentially eliminate the need for those regular fingerstick tests, the long-standing only way to check blood sugar levels. Though fingersticks are sometimes needed to calibrate CGM systems and can still serve as backup health data sources, they are no longer a constant, nagging, unpleasant to-do.
Furthermore, studies (
here ) show CGMs can decrease a patients time spent in hypoglycemia, and help to increase their time in a healthy BG range.
With active monitoring and alert settings, the devices can be especially beneficial for children dealing with nighttime fluctuations, bringing safer care and more peace of mind to parents and caregivers.
Its also a very helpful tool for patients who have hypoglycemia unawareness, alerting them to impending low blood sugars.
How To Test Your Blood Sugar At Home
Follow these steps:
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How Do I Get A Cgm
As with most medical technology, you need a prescription to get a CGM. Your doctor can write a prescription for any of the major CGM devices. Most are available through traditional pharmacies at this point, though online ordering directly through the manufacturer or many third-party vendors is an option too.
But getting a prescription for a CGM is often not as simple as just walking in to your doctors office and asking for one. Instead, youll likely need a Prior Authorization to get a CGM through your health insurance. A PA is form/process that your doctor has to go through to prove medical necessity to obtain approval from your insurance plan to cover the costs associated with the prescribed treatment .
At this point, most major insurers require a Prior Authorization before extending coverage for CGM. Heres how to go about securing a PA, according to JDRF, a leading T1D research and support organization:
- Type 1 diabetes diagnosis
How Can I Monitor My Blood Sugar Without A Finger Stick
The first step in ditching the finger prick test is to speak with your healthcare provider about the possibility of switching to a continuous glucose monitor. A continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, relies on interstitial fluid, not blood. A small sensor is placed just under the skin with a cannula. It is still a penetration of the skin, but it is very shallow puncture and a CGM needs to be applied and replaced only every 10-14 days or so. It is usually on the upper arm or belly, continuously monitoring and reporting your blood sugar levels. Held in place with an adhesive patch, you can wear a CGM system while sleeping, showering, or exercising. While its sometimes confused with an insulin pump, a CGM is designed to monitor and report glucose levels, not administer insulin.
Your healthcare provider will help determine the best brand for your needs and make sure you are comfortable using your device. Be aware that some CGM systems may require calibration, which means testing your CGM results against the results of, you guessed it, a finger prick test. But this still adds up to a lot less finger pricking and a lot more time back in your day.
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How Do I Measure My Blood Sugar Level
Follow your doctors advice and the instructions that come with the BGM or CGM. Different meters work differently, so be sure to check with your doctor for advice specifically for you. With a BGM, youll usually follow the steps below:
- Wash your hands and dry them well before doing the test.
- Use an alcohol pad to clean the area that youre going to prick. For most glucose meters, you will prick your fingertip. However, with some meters, you can also use your forearm, thigh, or the fleshy part of your hand. Ask your doctor what area you should use with your meter.
- Prick yourself with a sterile lancet to get a drop of blood.
- Place the drop of blood on the test strip.
- Follow the instructions for inserting the test strip into your glucose meter.
- The meter will give you a number for your blood sugar level.
If you have a CGM, youll follow the insertion directions that come with the monitor. Once its warmed up, the transmitter wirelessly sends the data to your computer or smartphone.
Blood Sugar Before And After Meals
There are many different times of day when you can check your blood sugar, but the most important times are typically before and after a meal. Checking your blood sugar before a meal can help you decide which foods to eat and how much insulin to take. According to the ADA’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2019, a healthy blood sugar level before a meal should fall somewhere between 80 and 130 mg/dL.
Checking your blood sugar after you eat tells you how your body is processing your meal and whether or not you currently have enough insulin in your system. But don’t check your blood sugar immediately after you finish your food. “If a patient wants to see their body’s response to a meal, they need to wait two hours before checking blood glucose,” says Samar Hafida, MD, an endocrinologist at Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center. “That’s how long it takes for the body to fully digest carbs.”
To see the effect of a meal on your blood glucose, measure your blood sugar two hours after starting your meal that’s when your blood sugar will peak. According to the ADA, the goal is that this peak, non-fasting glucose level will be less than 180 mg/dL.
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Apply Blood Sample To The Test Strip
Before you prick your finger, prepare your meter by inserting a new test strip according to the manufacturers instructions. Do not apply blood to the test strip until your meter is on and displaying the testing screen.
Once your meter is ready, hold the lancing device loaded with a lancet against the test site with gentle pressure and press the release button to prick your finger.
Make sure the blood drop is large enough to fill the test strip and bring the blood sample to the test strip. Most test strips will quickly wick the blood into the sample area within a few seconds. The meter may provide a visual or audio indication when to remove your finger, after enough blood has been applied.
For more information on how to test your blood sugar see the how to test your blood sugar article.
Tip: As you bring the blood sample to the test strip, avoid wiping or smearing blood on areas outside the designated sample area. Only the edge of the test strip with the sample area should come in contact with the blood sample.
How Does It Work
The app works by placing one fingertip over your smartphones camera lens. A series of close-up images are taken that show data on the users blood flow. These images are then sent to the cloud for analysis and can provide feedback on vitals including heart rate, temperature, blood pressure to respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation.
Users will also find out how different foods affect their body. This will be a big help in setting up the perfect diet for you.
Diabetes has become an epidemic in America. According to the American Diabetes Association, over 30 million people in the U.S. had diabetes in 2015. Thats nearly 10 percent of the population.
Advances in technology, like the Epic Health app, might be able to help get this epidemic under control. We can sure hope anyway.
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How Often Should I Test My Blood Sugar Level
Your family doctor will recommend how often you should test. Testing times are based on the kind of medicine you take and on how well your blood sugar levels are controlled. Youll probably need to check your blood sugar more often at first. Youll also check it more often when you feel sick or stressed, when you change your medicine, or if youre pregnant.
Why Check Blood Sugar Levels
If you take certain medication, like insulin or sulphonylureas, checking your blood sugars is a vital part of living with diabetes. It can help you work out when you need to take more medication, when you need to eat something or for when you want to get up and move around more.
Routine checks can help you know when you might be starting to go too low or too high . Its a way of getting to know your body and how it works. It can help you and your healthcare team spot patterns too. Do you write your results down? You might find that helpful.
But importantly, it will help you stay healthy and prevent serious diabetes complications now and in the future. By complications, we mean serious problems in places like your feet and your eyes. This happens because too much sugar in the blood damages your blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow around your body. This can lead to very serious problems like sight loss and needing an amputation.
The higher your blood sugar levels are and the longer theyre high for, the more at risk you are.
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What Is An A1c Test
The A1C test is a blood test that reflects your average blood glucose over the last 3 months. It is reported as a percentage and people who dont live with diabetes generally have an A1C below 5.7%.
That means that an A1C test can be a good starting point for a diabetes diagnosis as well as an indicator of whether your diabetes management approach is successful.
The American Diabetes Association has established the following A1C guidelines for using the test as part of a diabetes diagnosis:
A1C targets for people living with diabetes should be tailored to the individual, but generally, an A1C of 7% or lower is recommended. An A1C of 7% translates to an average blood sugar of around 154 mg/dl .
Some people living with diabetes strive for A1C levels below 5.7%, but aiming for a very low A1C is not always advisable, especially if its achieved through an excessive amount of hypoglycemia .
Discuss your target A1C with your doctor and remember that it can always be adjusted up or down depending on whats appropriate for you.
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The Role Of Glucose Testing
There are several different reasons a doctor may recommend glucose testing for you. These include screening, diagnosis, and monitoring.
Screening means using tests to find health problems before those problems cause any symptoms or signs that you or your doctor might notice.
If you are over 40, overweight or obese, or have a heightened risk of developing diabetes, your doctor may order one or more screening glucose tests to find prediabetes or diabetes. People with prediabetes have glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.
Diagnosis is the use of tests and procedures to determine what underlying health condition might be causing noticeable signs and symptoms.
If you have symptoms of diabetes, high blood sugar, or low blood sugar, your doctor may order glucose testing for you. Glucose testing may be accompanied by other blood or urine tests to make an accurate diagnosis.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor may want you to track your blood glucose levels with an at-home glucose testing or monitoring device. Your doctor may also recommend periodic laboratory testing during check-ups to learn how your condition is being managed.
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Blood Glucose Monitors: What Are My Options
There are many devices on the market that can help you check your blood glucose, but they generally fall into 2 categories:
Self-monitoring blood glucose devices. With SMBG devices, you test your blood sugar multiple times a day, each time pricking your finger and testing a drop of blood with a test strip. Many of these devices can store your results over time. Some newer ones even allow you to send your results to your smartphone through an app. Popular SMBG devices include OneTouch Ultra 2, Coaguchek XS, and Contour Next.
Continuous glucose monitoring devices. In contrast to SMBG devices, CGM devices measure your blood sugar at regular intervals throughout the day. Popular CGM devices include Freestyle Libre 14 day, Dexcom G6, and Medtronic Guardian Sensor 3. These tend to be newer than SMBG devices and feature an adhesive patch with a small microneedle sensor that you attach to your skin . The sensor measures your blood sugar and sends your results to an app on your smartphone or another device you carry around with you. Some CGM devices come attached to insulin pumps that give you insulin when your blood sugar is high.
Keep Track Of Your Testing Strips
Make sure your strips arent expired. Out-of-date strips arent guaranteed to return true results. Old strips and inaccurate results may affect your daily log of blood glucose numbers, and your doctor may think theres a problem when there really isnt.
Also, keep the strips out of sunlight and away from moisture. Its best to keep them at room temperature or cooler, but not freezing.
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How To Use Blood Glucose Testing Results
It’s not unusual for your blood glucose results to be out of range now and then. But if you see a pattern of highs or lows outside your target range, you may want to ask yourself:
- Did I eat at an unusual time, have a larger or smaller portion, or try a new food?
- Did I have more or less physical activity than usual?
- Did I forget to take my medication, take it at the wrong time, take too little or too much?
- Am I taking a new medication?
- Am I stressed about something?
- Do I have an infection or an illness?
- Did I drink alcohol?
Any of these can have an impact on your blood glucose numbers. If you’re making changes to your lifestyle, or if you can’t figure out why you’ve been out of range, talk to your doctor, nurse or diabetes educator.
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1American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes2016 Abridged for primary care providers . Diabetes Care. 2016 34: 3-21. Available at: . Accessed April 26, 2019.
2Polonsky WH, et al. Structured self-monitoring of blood glucose significantly reduces A1C levels in poorly controlled, noninsulin-treated type 2 diabetes: results from the Structured Testing Program study. Diabetes Care. 2011 34:262-267. Accessed April 26, 2019.
4Talk with your healthcare professional before deciding if alternate site testing is right for you.
What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels
You might want to measure your blood sugar before meals to get a baseline, and then two hours after your meal to measure your normal blood sugar level. Your doctor might also suggest measuring blood sugar before bed to be sure you have been eating well throughout the day and can go to sleep with peace of mind.
These are considered within the range of normal:
- Less than 140 mg/dl if you do not have diabetes.
- Less than 180 mg/dl if you have diabetes.
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