Gaining Insights From Routine Blood Glucose Testing
Day-to-day blood sugar checks can give you a good idea of how you’re doing at this moment, and they can be reviewed overall to see trends. They can help answer questions such as:
- Are your medications working as they should?
- How does the type or amount of food you eat affect your blood sugar?
- How does activity or stress affect your blood sugar?
Other Types Of Glucose Testing
Random glucose testing isnt a substitute for your normal glucose testing schedule. You should also perform fasting tests and tests after meals, as suggested by your doctor.
A fasting blood glucose test is usually performed upon waking, before you eat. Testing after meals measures glucose levels around two hours after the start of a meal. Different testing times will yield different results. These are affected by:
- the food youve eaten
- medications youre taking
- any exercise youve done
For some people, its important to test every day. This helps you get a sense of your overall blood sugar control and can help you make treatment decisions. Testing is the best way to learn how your blood sugar is affected by your lifestyle, medications, or both.
Fasting Blood Sugar : Normal Levels And Testing
Fasting blood sugar levels give vital clues about how a person is managing their blood sugar. Blood sugar tends to peak about an hour after eating and declines after that.
Knowing when to test and what to look for can help people stay healthy, especially if they have diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition.
Keep reading to learn more about fasting blood sugar levels, including information on testing and tips for maintaining normal levels.
The body needs glucose for energy, and glucose comes from the food a person eats. However, the body does not use all of this energy at once. Insulin makes it possible to store and release glucose as necessary.
Following a meal, blood sugar levels rise and usually peak about an hour after eating.
How high blood sugar rises and the precise timing of the peak depends on a persons diet.
Food-related factors that can trigger significant rises include:
- eating large meals
- consuming sugary foods and drinks
- eating foods with simple carbohydrates, or carbs, such as bread and sweet snacks
As blood sugar rises, the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar, breaking it down so the body can use it for energy or store it for later.
However, people who have diabetes have difficulties with insulin in one of two ways:
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What Else Can I Do To Help Manage My Blood Sugar Levels
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels to see what makes them go up or down.
- Eat at regular times, and dont skip meals.
- Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
- Track your food, drink, and physical activity.
- Drink water instead of juice or soda.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- For a sweet treat, choose fruit.
- Control your food portions .
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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How Do I Check My Blood Glucose
Picture 1: Poke the side of the finger with the lancet
How Can I Pay For Tests And Diabetes Supplies
Medicareexternal icon, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans pay for the A1C test and fasting blood sugar test as well as some diabetes supplies. Check your plan or ask your health care team for help finding low-cost or free supplies, and see How to Save Money on Diabetes Care for more resources.
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When Should I Measure My Blood Glucose
Throughout the rest of your pregnancy, you will need to measure your blood glucose levels at various points through the day, to check that they are within the limits you have been given at each of those times:
When you get up You need to measure your blood glucose levels each morning when you get up, before you have anything to eat or drink. This blood glucose level is called your fasting blood glucose level because you will have an empty stomach. You must not have eaten or drunk anything apart from water overnight, for at least eight hours.
Your team should have discussed this with you and agreed the ideal morning blood glucose level for you to aim for.
Before or after every meal You will probably be asked to measure your blood glucose level around the time of a meal. Some services measure before eating while others measure one or two hours after a meal .
Again, you will have discussed and agreed an ideal blood glucose level after meals with your diabetes team. These levels will be higher than your fasting blood glucose levels, as you will just have eaten.
If you are taking insulin to help to control your blood glucose levels, you may need to do a separate test before you go to bed, or even during the night, although this is unusual.
“When we did go out for a special meal or two, and I’d have a little bit of cheesecake or something, it really affected my sugar levels. But that would’ve been just twice in the whole pregnancy.” Gemma, mum of one
What Happens During A Blood Glucose Test
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. For some types of glucose blood tests, you will need to drink a sugary drink before your blood is drawn.
If you have diabetes, your health care provider may recommend a kit to monitor your blood sugar at home. Most kits include a device to prick your finger . You will use this to collect a drop of blood for testing. There are some newer kits available that dont require pricking your finger. For more information on at-home test kits, talk to your health care provider.
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Get A Good First Drop For Accurate Blood Glucose Results
Diabetes educator Deb Bjorsness, R.D., CDE, suggests taking these steps to get a good drop of blood with the least pain and most accurate results:
1. Wash.“It’s amazing how many people don’t wash their hands prior to doing a check,” Bjorsness says. “Say you eat an apple. You don’t realize you have apple residue on your fingers. If you don’t clean your hands, you could have a blood sugar result that is artificially high. If you use insulin, that can be a real issue.” Bjorsness recommends just using soap and warm water. “Save the alcohol pads for when you are out and about and don’t have access to a sink,” she says.
2. Shake. Give your hands three to five shakes below your heart to get the blood down to the fingertips. For those of you who remember shaking down a mercury thermometer, that’s the snap you want.
3. Stick. Set your lancet to the right depth for you. “You need a depth on the device to get just enough blood without having to squeeze the life out of your finger. Don’t go deeper than you need,” Bjorness says. For less pain, use the sides of your fingers, which have fewer nerve endings than the pads. Or try an alternate lancing site, such as the fleshy parts of your palm or forearm.
4. Milk. Gently milk the finger down. Don’t squeeze hard or you might change the composition of the blood, affecting the result.
How To Dispose Of Single
Some of the supplies you use to test your blood sugar are intended for single use only and need to be disposed of safely to prevent others from contact with used and potentially harmful supplies. It is important to carefully dispose of:
- Needles, for those who take insulin
- Test strips
For at-home containment of used testing supplies, the Food and Drug Administration recommends getting an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container. These are typically available from pharmacies, healthcare providers, medical supply companies, or online. Some local regulations allow alternative disposal containers, like an empty, heavy-duty plastic detergent bottle with a tight-fitting, puncture and leak-resistant lid.
When your sharps container reaches the full line or is three-quarters full, dispose of it by following your local guidelines for biohazardous materials. Some communities have collection sites, special pick-up services, or mail-back programs. To learn more, see the FDAs article on safe disposal for used needles and sharps.
Once you have completed your test, immediately place the single-use testing supplies into a sharps container to reduce the chances of a loose lancet or needle poking you or others. Some lancets come with safety caps to cover the exposed needle during the removal and disposal process. Safety caps should be used if you do not have immediate access to a sharps container.
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How The Blood Sugar Levels Vary With Meals
Blood sugar levels rise following a meal and usually peak about one hour after eating. The rise in the blood sugar and the precise timing of its peaking depends on the food a person has eaten. Large meals often cause blood sugar levels to rise, and so do meals containing high-sugar carbohydrates such as white bread and sweet snacks.Normally, a rise in the blood sugar prompts the pancreas to release insulin, and the insulin lowers the blood sugar by breaking it down so that the body can use it for energy or store it for later use. However, people with diabetes may face the following problems:
- Patients with Type 1 Diabetes do not produce the right amount of insulin required because the body attacks the cells that produce insulin
- Patients with Type 2 Diabetes do not respond well to the insulin produced by the body, and later, may fail to produce enough insulin.
In both cases, the fasting blood sugar test shows elevated blood sugar levels.
Therefore, Fasting Blood Sugar Depends on 3 Factors:
- The contents of the last meal, i.e., dinner
- The size of the last meal
- The bodys ability to produce insulin and its ability to respond to the insulin it produces
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
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Choosing A Blood Glucose Monitor
A blood glucose monitor, testing strips, and a lancet to draw the blood are all necessary for testing. Some testing kits offer all three, while others require separate purchases for each piece.
People with diabetes use many testing strips, and so it may be wise to carefully consider the cost of the testing strips as well as the monitor.
Some other tips for buying a monitor include:
- Select one with automatic coding to avoid the need to code in results with every test.
- Check insurance plans to see if an insurer only covers certain monitors.
- Look at whether the unit stores previous data.
- Consider portability, since larger units can be difficult to carry around.
- Think about blood sample size, particularly for people who do not like pricking themselves.
Monitors that require a smaller blood sample may be more comfortable as the depth of the lancet can be less.
Many people with diabetes have no signs of the disease at all. However, the lack of symptoms does not necessarily mean the absence of diabetes.
When symptoms occur, many of the effects of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the same since both affect blood sugar regulation in the body. Symptoms include:
- increased hunger and thirst
Structured Blood Glucose Testing
Structured testing supports your routine or daily testing by giving you deeper, more targeted data to work from. It can help you determine if you’re in a safe range and problem-solve around how the things you do are connected to your blood sugar. You simply perform additional tests over a short period at specific times of day.
Structured blood glucose testing can help you:
- Discover how to best use your numbers
- See how certain activities can affect on your blood sugar levels
- Problem-solve around highs and lows
- Identify blood sugar patterns
- Work with your healthcare team decide if any adjustments are needed in your insulin therapy or other areas of your diabetes management
Pattern management: If you find that your A1C result is rising in spite of your best efforts, or if you don’t feel as well as you’d like, talk with your healthcare professional about the Accu-Chek 360° View tool. This simple paper tool helps you track your blood sugar over 3 days, so you and your doctor can quickly identify patterns that can guide adjustments to your treatment plan. As a result, you may be able to feel better and lower your A1C.2
Before-and-after testing: You may also decide to try the Accu-Chek Testing in Pairs tool. This easy-to-use, printable tool helps you see changes in your blood glucose with before-and-after testing. In just 7 days, you can see the effect a specific meal, exercise or other event has on your blood sugar.
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How Do I Check
People with diabetes check their blood sugar 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.
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.
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How To Use A Glucometer
Oftentimes, unless you have met with a certified diabetes educator, your healthcare provider may have given you a prescription for a glucometer without explicitly telling you how to use it. And while most instruction manuals are user-friendly, this task can seem daunting if you are new to testing or not that technologically savvy. Follow these guidelines for safe and easy testing.
Who Should Use A Glucometer
If you have type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, latent autoimmune diabetes in adults , or were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, a major part of your treatment plan should be regularly testing your blood glucose levels with a glucometer.
Frequent glucometer use can help you:
- Check how controlled your blood sugar is and whether it’s high or low
- Recognize patterns when you’re more likely to have a spike or crash in glucose
- See how your glucose levels respond after exercise or in times of stress
- Monitor the effects of diabetes medications and other therapies
- Assess how well you’re meeting specific treatment goals
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How To Test Your Blood Sugar
To check your blood sugar level, gather your blood glucose meter, a test strip and your lancing device. See how to prepare the meter and test strip, lance your finger and get a reading using the Accu-Chek® Guide Me system by watching the video or following the steps here:
The steps are similar for many meters, and generally look like this: