When Would I Need A Blood Glucose Test
There are three main reasons why you may need a blood glucose test:
- Your healthcare provider may have ordered routine bloodwork called a basic metabolic panel or a comprehensive metabolic panel , which both include a glucose blood test.
- You may be having symptoms of high blood sugar or low blood sugar, which could indicate diabetes or another condition.
- If you take a long-term medication that affects your blood sugar levels, such as corticosteroids, you may need routine glucose blood tests to monitor your levels.
The most common use of a blood glucose test is to screen for Type 2 diabetes , which is a common condition. Certain people are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. If you have risk factors, your provider will likely recommend regular screening no matter your age. The American Diabetes Association recommends regular screening for anyone age 35 or older.
Your provider will also order a blood glucose test if you have symptoms of high blood sugar or low blood sugar .
Symptoms of diabetes and high blood sugar include:
- Feeling very thirsty .
- Intense hunger.
- Anxiousness or irritability.
You need to consume carbohydrates to treat hypoglycemia, such as a banana or apple juice. Severe hypoglycemia can be life-threatening.
When Should I Check My Blood Sugar More Frequently
- If your diabetes medicine changes
- If you begin taking other kinds of medicines
- If you change your diet
- If your exercise routine or activity level changes
- If your stress level increases
- If youre sick. When you are sick, even without eating, your sugar levels may run high, so testing is important.
Follow your doctors testing recommendations during this time. Continue testing more often until you have maintained your blood sugar goal values for at least 1 week. Or continue testing until your doctor advises you that more frequent testing is no longer necessary.
What Happens During The Test
Most people can take an A1C test at any time without preparing beforehand. However, a doctor may sometimes request that a person avoids eating or drinking for 8 hours before the test.
Women who are pregnant may need to drink a sugary beverage 1 hour before the test.
A doctor or nurse will collect a blood sample, usually from a vein in the arm or hand. They will send the sample to a laboratory for analysis.
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The Best Time To Check Blood Sugar
Kathi Valeii is a freelance writer covering the intersections of health, parenting, and social justice.
Living with diabetes includes monitoring your blood sugar levels. Most people do this by pricking their fingers with a blood sugar meter , which measures sugar in a small amount of blood.
Some people use a continuous glucose monitor , a sensor under the skin that checks blood sugar every few minutes. People who use a CGM must also use a blood sugar meter daily to ensure their CGM is accurate.
When you have diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is crucial because keeping blood sugar in a target range can help prevent complications, including:
- Vision problems
When you check your blood sugar matters. There are several times throughout the day that health experts recommend checking your blood sugar.
This article explains the importance of monitoring your blood sugar, how blood sugar is measured, and how to check it.
MixMedia / Getty Images
How Do I Check
People with diabetes check their blood glucose levels by poking their fingertips and using a blood glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor to measure the blood glucose level at that moment. Read on to find out how to use a blood glucose meter. To find out more about CGMs, start by talking to your doctor.
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Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
If your test results show you have prediabetes, ask your doctor or nurse if there is a lifestyle change program offered through the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program in your community. You can also search for an online or in-person program. Having prediabetes puts you at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but participating in the program can lower your risk by as much as 58% .
What Are The Recommended Targets For Blood Glucose Levels
Many people with diabetes aim to keep their blood glucose at these normal levels:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL
- About 2 hours after a meal starts: less than 180 mg/dL
Talk with your health care team about the best target range for you. Be sure to tell your health care professional if your glucose levels often go above or below your target range.
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How To Check Blood Sugar Without A Meter
Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body either doesnt make enough insulin or doesnt use insulin properly or both. This can lead to a higher than normal blood sugar level.
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to complications, such as:
For these reasons, its important to monitor your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Prior to using meters, people with diabetes would monitor their blood sugar by testing their urine. This method, however, wasnt as accurate, nor did it provide real-time results.
If you self-test your blood sugar several times a day using a glucometer, or meter, it requires that you prick your finger to draw blood to test. Due to the discomfort of this method, you might look for a way to monitor your level without this tool.
If finger pricks are very bothersome for you, dont worry theres hope. Advances in blood sugar monitoring technology could mean no more finger pricks in the future.
If you have diabetes, there are several portable devices you can use to check your blood sugar level and not all of them require a finger prick.
What Is The Future Of Blood Sugar Testing
Even though you can monitor blood sugar level with glucometers and CGMs, the future might provide additional ways to manage your diabetes.
- Multiple waves: Researchers have been studying and experimenting with new technologies. For example, some adults with type 2 diabetes in Europe have access to a device that can measure blood sugar using ultrasonic, electromagnet, and thermal waves.
- Radio waves: Other advances on the horizon involve using radio waves to measure blood sugar .
- Tears: Additionally, some researchers are working on a sensor to monitor blood sugar under the lower eyelid . It works by measuring the sugar level of tear fluid.
- Contacts and lasers: Other future technologies might possibly include using a smart contact lens to measure blood sugar, as well as laser technology.
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Why You Should Check Your Blood Sugar
Testing blood glucose can help you manage diabetes by showing you:
- How well your diabetes treatment plan is working
- How exercise and food affect your blood sugar levels
- How things like stress and illness affect your levels
- How well your diabetes medication is working
- When your blood sugar levels are too high or too low
Why Would I Need This Test
You might need this test if you are at risk of developing diabetes, or if you have had any symptoms or test results suggesting diabetes.
The standard blood glucose tests measure your blood sugar level at a particular time. The OGTT measures how you respond to glucose.
Pregnant women can develop a particular type of diabetes called gestational diabetes, and will be asked to have an OGTT around 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born.
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Symptoms Of Diabetes That May Prompt An A1c Test
As mentioned by the , a doctor may recommend an A1C test if a person shows signs of poor glucose control, diabetes, or prediabetes.
Warning signs can include:
- increased urination, especially at night
- increased hunger
- numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- slow healing sores
- more than 45 years of age
- family history of diabetes
- long-term use of glucocorticoids, antipsychotics, and certain medications for HIV
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:
- 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.
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When Should I Go To The Hospital For Blood Sugar
Certain symptoms of blood sugar levels signal when you should seek medical help. Typically, if you feel extremely fatigued, notice increased thirst and urination, or weight loss, you should seek help right away. These symptoms can signify an abnormal blood sugar level and/or other health conditions. A routine health check is also advised, even if you do not show any symptoms.
How Often Do I Need To Do Blood Tests
How often you should test your blood glucose can vary depending on your type of diabetes.
People with type 1 diabetes should test at least 4 times per day including before each meal and before bed.
People with type 1 diabetes should also be supported by their GP to test up to 10 times a day if factors apply such as taking part in sport, to ensure safe driving and if you have impaired hypo awareness.
People with other types of diabetes on hypo-causing medication should test their blood glucose levels at least once a day. Aim to test at different times of the day to discover whether blood glucose levels are going too low at certain times of day. This will help you to take steps to prevent low or high results from happening and this can be done with help from your doctor.
If on medication that can cause hypos, be prepared to test your blood glucose levels at any time you feel the signs of hypoglycemia
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Throw Away The Test Strip And Used Lancet
Figure 16. Pull the test strip out of your blood glucose meter
Figure 17. Push the end of the lancet into the plastic tab
Figure 18. Eject the lancet into the sharps container
Follow Your Diabetes Meal Plan
Make a diabetes meal plan with help from your health care team. Following a meal plan will help you manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Choose fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, chicken or turkey without the skin, fish, lean meats, and nonfat or low-fat milk and cheese. Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. Choose foods that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt. Learn more about eating, diet, and nutrition with diabetes.
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When To Check Blood Sugar Levels
Check your child’s blood sugar level at the following times:
- Before meals and bedtime, a minimum of four times a day.
- If you suspect your child has a low blood sugar level.
- Before and after your child exercises.
- When your child is ill.
- Two hours after the start of a meal, if results from before the meal don’t match HbA1c.
- During the night. This is particularly important if your child had a low blood sugar level during the day, exercised more than usual, made a change in the insulin dose or has been ill.
Dont Rely On Supplements Or Vitamins
Theres no shortcut to maintaining good blood sugars. A supplement or vitamin alone will not give you healthy blood sugar levels and they can interact negatively with other medications. Speak to your healthcare provider and perhaps ask for a referral for a dietitian who specializes in blood sugar control before incorporating dietary supplements, shakes, or vitamins to achieve blood sugar control.
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What Are The Benefits Of Monitoring My Blood Sugar
Regular blood sugar monitoring is one of the most important things you can do to manage diabetes. Youll be able to see what makes your levels go up or down, such as eating different foods, taking your medicine/insulin or exercising.
Diabetes affects everyone differently, so theres no one-size-fits-all approach to management. The information you gather by checking your blood sugar helps you and your healthcare team make decisions about the best treatment plan for you. These decisions can help delay or prevent diabetes complications and help you live a healthy life.
When Should I Check My Blood Sugar
Your healthcare provider will tell you when and how often to check during the day.
- You may need to check your blood sugar level at least 3 times each day.
- If you check your blood sugar level before a meal , it will show you your lowest blood sugar. If you check your blood sugar level 2 hours after a meal , it will show you your highest blood sugar. Ask your healthcare provider what good goals for your blood sugar levels are at different times.
- You may need to check for ketones in your urine or blood if your blood sugar level is higher than directed.
- Write down your results and show them to your healthcare provider at every visit. Your provider may use the results to make changes to your medicine, food, or exercise schedules.
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Consequences Of Blood Sugar Levels
Whilst most symptoms of low and high blood sugar levels are mild, they can worsen if left untreated and sometimes have long term consequences and/or complications. Overtime, a high blood sugar level is what can cause consequences. Lack of treatment can cause severe damage to the blood vessels and lead to complications such as:
- Damage to the eyes and/or loss of vision
- Nerve problems in the feet leading to infections
To avoid long term consequences and complications, it is advised to take all precautionary measures and treat your blood sugar level so that it can be maintained at your ideal reading. So do so, follow all treatment methods, stay on track with checking your level daily and seeking help if symptoms persist.
If you have any more questions, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions which may answer your concerns:
What Is A Blood Sugar Test
A blood sugar test is a procedure that measures the amount of sugar, or glucose, in your blood. A doctor may order this test to help diagnose diabetes. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes also use this test to manage their condition.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the cells in the body responsible for producing insulin are destroyed. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin and no longer uses it effectively. Both types can result in high blood sugar if theyre not managed well.
Blood sugar tests provide instant results and let you know the following:
- if your blood sugar levels are high or low
- if your diet or exercise routine needs to change
- how your diabetes treatment is working
- if your overall treatment goals for diabetes are manageable
If you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, a doctor may also order a blood sugar test as part of a routine checkup. They may also be looking to see if you have diabetes or prediabetes, a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than typical.
People may need to be tested if they have symptoms of diabetes or if they have certain risk factors.
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