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.
Who Should Regularly Check Their Sugar Levels
Although, regular sugar testing is recommended for all of us, but if you are amongst the following, you should never skip your sugar testing appointment:
- You are taking insulin
- You have a history of blood sugar
- You have symptoms of blood sugar without prior warnings or signs
Lets now find out the right way of checking your blood sugar.
Blood Sugar Levels: What’s Normal What’s Not And How To Measure
What do blood glucose levels mean and what range is healthy? Here’s what you need to know.
Sugar can lead to high blood sugar and contributes to the development of diabetes.
We all want to keep track of our health in every way we can — you may weigh yourself, keep track of your blood pressure or monitor your resting heart rate. But how close of an eye do you keep on your blood sugar?
People with diabetes are all too familiar with their blood sugar levels, but the rest of us might not even think about it much. However, consistently high blood sugar levels can coexist with Type 2 diabetes and cause serious health conditions like kidney disease, nerve problems or stroke.
While that’s no reason to panic, when it comes to our health, it’s important to know exactly what’s going on inside of our bodies. Without further ado, let’s get into what blood sugar means, how to measure it and everything else you need to know.
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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.
Tips To Make Glucose Monitoring Easier
Whether youre using a traditional finger prick monitor or a CGM for your diabetes management, here are some tips to make checking your glucose easier:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before checking your glucose for a more accurate result. Dont use hand sanitizer before using finger sticks.
- If inserting a sensor into your skin for a CGM, be sure to wash the area of skin with soap and water and allow it to dry first.
- Change any sensors by the recommended manufacturer time for example, every 14 days for the FreeStyle Libre and every 10 days for the Dexcom G6.
- If using finger strips, you may experience less pain by using the side of your fingertip closer to your fingernail.
- Even if youre using a CGM, you may consider having a traditional meter on hand to double-check your glucose. This is in case you experience symptoms of high or low blood sugar despite a normal reading.
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What Causes Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar has many causes, including missing a meal, taking too much insulin, taking other diabetes medicines, exercising more than normal, and drinking alcohol. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low.
Signs of low blood sugar are different for everyone. Common symptoms include:
Know what your individual symptoms are so you can catch low blood sugar early and treat it. If you think you may have low blood sugar, check it even if you dont have symptoms. Low blood sugar can be dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible.
Other Tips For Checking:
- With some meters, you can also use your forearm, thigh, or fleshy part of your hand.
- There are spring-loaded lancing devices that make sticking yourself less painful.
- If you use your fingertip, stick the side of your fingertip by your fingernail to avoid having sore spots on the frequently used part of your finger.
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How The Test Is Done
You can buy a testing kit from a pharmacy without a prescription. Your provider can help you choose the right kit, set up the meter, and teach you how to use it.
Most kits have:
- Test strips
- Small needles that fit into a spring-loaded plastic device
- A logbook for recording your numbers that can be downloaded and viewed at home or at your provider’s office
To do the test, prick your finger with the needle and place a drop of blood on a special strip. This strip measures how much glucose is in your blood. Some monitors use blood from areas of the body other than the fingers, reducing discomfort. The meter shows your blood sugar results as a number on a digital display. If your vision is poor, talking glucose meters are available so that you don’t have to read the numbers.
Be aware that no meter or strip is accurate 100% of the time. If your blood sugar value is unexpectedly high or low, measure again with a new strip. Do not use strips if the container has been left open or if the strip has gotten wet.
The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar monitoring is the primary tool you have to find out if your blood glucose levels are within your target range. This tells you your blood glucose level at any one time.
Its important for blood sugar levels to stay in a healthy range. If glucose levels get too low, we can lose the ability to think and function normally. If they get too high and stay high, it can cause damage or complications to the body over the course of many years.
The logging of your results is vital. When you bring your log to your healthcare provider, youll have a good picture of your body’s response to your diabetes care plan. To help keep track of your levels, we have a glucose log. We also have a blood glucose log available for purchase that is smaller so you can carry it with you.
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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.
How To Do A Blood Sugar Test At Home
Most people with diabetes need to regularly test their blood sugar. This can be done at home by pricking your fingertip and getting a drop of blood on a test strip that gets read by the meter. The process is fairly quick and easy. Ask your doctor how often you should check your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
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What To Do For A High Blood Sugar Reading
You have high blood sugar when you get a reading:
- above your target level, which your doctor can determine
- above 130
milligrams of glucose per deciliter before eating
- higher than 180 mg/dl 2 hours after the start of a meal
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, if you get a reading, you should drink a glass of water and exercise to use up glucose. If you have more than three high readings in 2 weeks, contact your doctor about next steps. You may need to change your treatment plan.
How Do I Check My Blood Glucose
Picture 1: Poke the side of the finger with the lancet
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Managing Blood Sugar When Youre Ill
When you get sick, your blood sugar levels may fluctuate and become unpredictable.
If you’re sick, it’s very important that you:
- drink plenty of water or sugar-free fluids
- check your blood sugar levels more often than usual
- take 15 grams of carbohydrate every hour if you are not able to follow your usual meal plan
- replace food with fluids that contain sugar if you can’t eat solid food
- continue to take your insulin or other diabetes medication
If you have a cold or flu and want to use a cold remedy or cough syrup, ask your pharmacist to help you make a good choice. Many cold remedies and cough syrups contain sugar, so try to pick sugar-free products.
As an extra precaution, you should always check with your health-care team about guidelines for insulin adjustment or medication changes during an illness.
What Should My Blood Sugar Levels Be
Your blood sugar level changes depending on what you’ve eaten, whether you’ve exercised and other factors but we have some general guidelines to determine what levels are healthy.
For generally healthy individuals who haven’t eaten for eight hours or more, a normal blood sugar level is between 70-99 mg/dL. When you’ve eaten in the past two hours, it should be no higher than 140 mg/dL. To refresh your chemistry knowledge, that unit is milligrams per deciliter and it’s measuring the amount of glucose present in your blood.
Only a medical professional can diagnose diabetes or another issue with your blood sugar, so if you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels, check with a doctor.
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Why Check Blood Sugar
- Too much food, especially carbohydrates
- Some medications
- More physical activity than usual
Understanding your bodys patterns can help you and your healthcare provider know how to manage your diabetes best. For example, monitoring your blood sugar levels and keeping your blood sugar within your target range reduce the risk of diabetes complications.
In addition, managing your diabetes can help prevent severely high blood sugar and severely low blood sugar .
How Can Measuring My Blood Sugar Help
Monitoring your blood sugar at home supports your overall diabetes treatment plan. Your provider will measure your blood sugar when you visit their clinic, but at-home monitoring will give you and your provider a record of how your blood sugar changes outside of those visits. This gives you both an idea of what to do next.
For example, if you notice that your blood sugar spikes at certain times of the day , youll know when to take your insulin. Or maybe you experience hypoglycemia after taking too much insulin. This could be a clue that you need to reduce your insulin dose. As you and provider adjust your dose, or maybe change your medications, home blood sugar measurements can give you an idea of whether your treatment is working or if you need to continue adjusting it.
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The Best Time To Test Your Blood Sugar:
So, what is the best time to check your blood sugar? This is one of the most common concerns of most people.
According to health experts, blood sugar should be tested at 3 different times to reach a conclusion. This is when you should test:
The best time to take these readings is 2-hours after consuming your meal.
What Happens If My Blood Glucose Level Becomes Too Low
Sometimes blood glucose levels drop below where they should be, which is called hypoglycemia. For most people with diabetes, the blood glucose level is too low when it is below 70 mg/dL.
Hypoglycemia can be life threatening and needs to be treated right away. Learn more about how to recognize and treat hypoglycemia.
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Common Problems To Avoid
It’s important to regularly maintain your glucose meter to avoid potential problems. Follow these tips to ensure good functioning:
- Make sure you keep batteries in stock that fit your glucometer.
- Make sure your test strips are not expired, as expired test strips can provide an inaccurate result.
- After taking a test strip out, close the lid tightly. Too much light or moisture can damage the strip.
- Clean your device at regular intervals and run quality-control checks when prompted.
- Wash hands well before testing since food residues can affect the number.
- Let the alcohol dry since it can cause false lows.
Work With Your Health Care Team
Most people with diabetes get health care from a primary care professional. Primary care professionals include internists, family physicians, and pediatricians. Sometimes physician assistants and nurses with extra training, called nurse practitioners, provide primary care. You also will need to see other care professionals from time to time. A team of health care professionals can help you improve your diabetes self-care. Remember, you are the most important member of your health care team.
Besides a primary care professional, your health care team may include
- an endocrinologist for more specialized diabetes care
- a registered dietitian, also called a nutritionist
- a nurse
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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.