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 Out-of-date strips arent guaranteed to return true results.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.
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.
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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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.
When To See A Doctor
Sometimes you can correct high blood sugar and you dont need emergency treatment. There are times you should book an appointment to talk to your doctor, though. These include when:
- You have high blood sugar a lot
- Your blood level is 240 milligrams per deciliter even after youve taken your insulin
- Youre struggling with your diet plan, which affects your blood sugar
- Youre worried about your symptoms
You should also have check-ups at least twice a year to monitor your treatment plan. If youre struggling to keep your levels in a healthy range, you might need changes to your medication or diet plan.
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How To Test Blood Sugar
People with diabetes usually check their blood sugar levels themselves. However, its a good idea to have a roommate, friend, or family member also know how to do it if you are sick and cant do it yourself.
To use a blood sugar meter, follow these steps:
If you are interested in CGM, you should talk to your healthcare provider since these are prescription devices. To use CGM, follow these steps:
You will also need to change the sensors on the CGM regularly, usually every one to two weeks.
When Should Testing Occur
A doctor might recommend testing at three different times, and often over the course of several days:
- Morning fasting reading: This provides information about blood glucose levels before a person eats or drinks anything. Taking blood glucose readings before eating provides a baseline number. This number offers clues about glucose processes during the day.
- Before a meal: Blood glucose before a meal tends to be low, so a high blood glucose reading at this time suggests difficulties managing blood sugar.
- After a meal: Post-meal testing gives a good idea about how the body reacts to food, and if sugar can reach the cells efficiently. Blood glucose readings after a meal can help diagnose gestational diabetes, which happens during pregnancy. Most doctors recommend testing about 2 hours after a meal.
The doctor will personalize the glucose monitoring schedule for the individual.
- Fasting : 80â130 milligrams per deciliter
- Before meals: 70â130 mg/dl
- Two hours after starting meals: Below 180 mg/dl
- At bedtime: Under 120 mg/dl
- HbA1c: 7.0 percent or lower
Before beginning home testing, it is important that people get clear, target figures from their doctor.
Target numbers may vary from person to person and may change over time, depending on an individualâs health, age, weight, and other factors.
For people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels should be within the following ranges:
What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis
If you think you may have low blood sugar, check it even if you dont have symptoms.
When too many ketones are produced too fast, they can build up in your body and cause diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA. DKA is very serious and can cause a coma or even death. Common symptoms of DKA include:
- Fast, deep breathing.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Stomach pain.
If you think you may have DKA, test your urine for ketones. Follow the test kit directions, checking the color of the test strip against the color chart in the kit to see your ketone level. If your ketones are high, . DKA requires treatment in a hospital.
DKA happens most in people with type 1 diabetes and is sometimes the first sign of type 1 in people who havent yet been diagnosed. People with type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA, but its less common.
Go Heavy On The Veggies
My veggie-heavy meals, like big salads with protein led to smaller peaks in glucose and my levels recovered quickly afterward, without sending me into reactive hypoglycemia. Im also usually satisfied after a big salad, so its a win-win. Ensuring there is enough protein mixed in is important though because vegetables also contain carbohydrates, so a veggie-only salad may lead to a bigger spike despite being low-cal. Plus, itll keep you feeling fuller longer, which can help stave off mindless carb-heavy snacking .
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Why Monitor Your Blood Sugar Levels
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, monitoring blood sugar is an important part of your management regimen. Blood sugar monitoring provides a lot of useful information, as it can help you:
- Judge how well youre reaching your blood sugar targets
- Know how diet and exercise affect your blood sugar levels
- Understand how other factors affect your blood sugar
- Monitor the effect of your diabetes medications on your blood sugar levels
- Identify highs and lows
What Is Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Continuous glucose monitoring automatically tracks blood glucose levels, also called blood sugar, throughout the day and night. You can see your glucose level anytime at a glance. You can also review how your glucose changes over a few hours or days to see trends. Seeing glucose levels in real time can help you make more informed decisions throughout the day about how to balance your food, physical activity, and medicines.
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How Do I Pick A Glucose Meter
Your doctor will make a recommendation. Check with your health insurance plan to see if it will pay for your BGM, its supplies, or a CGM. If so, your plan may only pay for a certain meter.
Shop around and compare costs. Consider what features are important to you. For example, some meters are made for people who have poor eyesight. If you want to pay a little more money, you can get a BGM that stores the results in its memory. This allows you to compare results from several days at one time.
You Feel Energized During Your Day
While CGMs provide data and insights, its important to also ask yourself how you feel after eating certain things. If you feel your energy levels crashing midday or after eating a certain food, you can look to your glucose levels to help determine where youre at and how you can avoid a dip in the future.
During times like this, you may even notice something called reactive hypoglycemia, says Collier. This is when your ending glucose is lower than where it was before you started eating, she explains. This often happens when people consume a larger portion size of sugary foods or refined carbohydrates, such as flour-based foods. The large influx of easy-to-digest sugar causes the pancreas to overcompensate by pumping out too much insulin, which plummets the blood sugar lower than when it started.
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What Are Target Blood Sugar Levels
Keeping your blood sugar levels in their target range is important to help you live a healthy life and prevent or delay diabetes complications.
The target blood sugar range for most people with diabetes is:
- 4.0 to 7.0 mmol/L before eating a meal, and
- 5.0 to 10 mmol/L two hours after the start of a meal
Your glycated hemoglobin level is also an important measure of your blood sugar levels. A1C is a blood test that is done in a laboratory with a sample of your blood. It is a measure of the level of glucose in the blood for the past 3 months.
Complications Of High And Low Blood Sugar Levels
If you dont get treatment, high blood sugar levels can lead to long-term complications, including:
Before checking your blood glucose levels, make sure that you have:
- a finger-stick device to prick your finger, such as a lancet
- an alcohol swab to sterilize the puncture site
- a blood glucose monitor
- a bandage if bleeding continues beyond a few drops
Also, depending on the type of test youre taking, you may need to adjust your meal schedule or time it around your meal, depending on your doctors instructions.
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What Are Blood Sugar Targets
A blood sugar target is the range you try to reach as much as possible. These are typical targets:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL.
- Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar targets may be different depending on your age, any additional health problems you have, and other factors. Be sure to talk to your health care team about which targets are best for you.
Importance Of Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels5
Monitoring blood sugar helps to determine if you are meeting your glucose targets which helps to reduce the unpleasant symptoms of high and low blood sugar, and avoid long-term diabetes complications. It is helpful to remember that the numbers are neither good nor bad. They are simply information used to help you learn what is working well and identify areas for improvement in your diabetes management.
One strategy in glucose monitoring is to start by checking blood sugar levels before meals to see if you are achieving your targets. Once readings before a meal are at the target, you can check your blood sugar before a meal and again 1-2 hours after to see how that food directly affected your blood sugar level this is called paired readings and can be tried with different meals and when introducing new activities.
Simply collecting numbers is not useful unless some type of action is also taken. Therefore, it is important to share the information with your healthcare team and regularly meet with a diabetes care and education specialist to learn how to take action and improve the time you spend in target range.
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How Much Does Continuous Glucose Monitoring Cost
CGM devices can be expensive. More and more insurance providers cover them today, which may make the cost more affordable. Your health insurance policy may only cover certain CGM devices.
Keep in mind that youll need to replace sensors and possibly transmitters regularly. Check with your insurance provider to see what devices and supplies your plan covers. Many providers and CGM companies have resources to help make CGM more affordable for those who need it.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Learning how to use a CGM device can take time. Its not a diabetes cure or a quick fix. But it has the potential to help you better understand the disease. A CGM device lets you keep a closer eye on glucose trends . By seeing the bigger picture, you can prevent problems or catch them early on to better manage your health. CGMs automated, always-on setup may give you more freedom, flexibility and peace of mind. It could also help you focus on other things without worrying about your blood sugar as much.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/07/2021.
Make A Note Of Your Readings
It may sound obvious, but you must record your readings. Note them down in a diary, a notebook or in your phone calendar. Some meters have software that lets you do this. You could try a diabetes app too.
You and your healthcare team can then look back over your results to see if you need to adjust your treatment.
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Can I Stop Doing Fingerstick Checks To Monitor My Blood Sugar If I Have A Cgm Device
No. Fingerstick checks will still be an essential tool for you to manage diabetes.
Because fingerstick checks measure glucose levels in your blood, they provide the best picture of what your glucose level is at the precise moment you take it. CGM measures glucose under your skin, which shows where your glucose levels were five to 10 minutes ago.
With diabetes, certain things can make glucose levels rise or fall quickly. Big or fast changes in blood glucose levels can be dangerous. Doing a fingerstick check can provide important information to help you take action to protect your health. It can also act as a backup tool to confirm CGM results.
Check Your Blood Glucose Levels
For many people with diabetes, checking their blood glucose level each day is an important way to manage their diabetes. Monitoring your blood glucose level is most important if you take insulin. The results of blood glucose monitoring can help you make decisions about food, physical activity, and medicines.
The most common way to check your blood glucose level at home is with a blood glucose meter. You get a drop of blood by pricking the side of your fingertip with a lancet. Then you apply the blood to a test strip. The meter will show you how much glucose is in your blood at the moment.
Ask your health care team how often you should check your blood glucose levels. Make sure to keep a record of your blood glucose self-checks. You can print copies of this glucose self-check chart. Take these records with you when you visit your health care team.
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When Should I Check My Blood Glucose Level
When you should check your blood glucose levels and how often you should check varies depending on each individual, the type of diabetes and the tablets and/or insulin being used. Your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator will help you decide how many checks are needed and the levels to aim for. Possible times to check are:
- Before breakfast
- Before rigorous exercise
- When you are feeling unwell
Even though your meter may have a memory, it is important to keep a record of your readings in a diary and to take this with you to all appointments with your diabetes health team. This will provide both you and your diabetes health team with important information in deciding if and how your treatment may need to be adjusted.
Most meters on the market have software which allows you to download your records in different formats such as graphs and charts. Even if you can do this, it is still helpful to keep a diary, not only for your checks but also details of your daily activities, the food you eat and other relevant information. There are some apps that record all of this information in one place. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator how you can use a diary to help you to better manage your diabetes.
Checking four times a day is usually recommended for people with type 1 diabetes. However many people check more often, such as those using an insulin pump .