How To Test For Diabetes
There are several ways to test for diabetes, and one common method is through an A1C blood test. This test shows your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months by determining the percentage of blood sugar attached to the hemoglobin protein in your red blood cells. The higher the number, the better the odds are that you may have diabetes. You can also perform a random blood sugar test that is taken at a random time. Anything over 200 mg per deciliter suggests diabetes. Random blood sugar tests can be done on your own using a blood glucose monitor.
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.
Which Type Of Device Is Right For Me
CGM devices are probably more convenient. Unlike SBMG devices, CGM devices dont require you to remember to test your blood sugar multiple times a day. They also dont need you to prick your finger, so they can be less painful.
If you feel like SBMG devices are a hassle, talk to your provider about getting a CGM device. Theyll want to help, especially if it makes you more inclined to monitor your blood sugar regularly.
When it comes to cost, insurance coverage can be a concern for some patients. Insurance plans will generally cover a few SMBG devices. CGM devices, on the other hand, are newer to the market so fewer insurance plans tend to cover them.
And if you dont have insurance or the SMBG device you want is too expensive for you, know that there are ways for you to saveor even get them for free. See here for information on savings programs for SMBG monitors and test strips.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
When visiting your doctor, you might keep these questions in mind to ask during your appointment.
- What is my target blood sugar range?
- How often should I check my blood sugar?
- What do these numbers mean?
- Are there patterns that show I need to change my diabetes treatment?
- What changes need to be made to my diabetes care plan?
If you have other questions about your numbers or your ability to manage your diabetes, make sure to work closely with your doctor or health care team.
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How To Use A Blood Sugar Meter
There are different kinds of meters, but most of them work the same way. Ask your health care team to show you the benefits of each. In addition to you, have someone else learn how to use your meter in case youre sick and cant check your blood sugar yourself.
Below are tips for how to use a blood sugar meter.
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.
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Just How To Lower Blood Glucose Levels With Diet Plan
It is essential to keep in mind that in order to lower blood sugar levels, it should be carried out in combination with a doctors guidance. Decreasing blood sugar level levels must just be done when the body is healthy enough to take on such an endeavor, as well as it can have adverse effects if done improperly.
When To Talk With A Pro
Testing your blood sugar is crucial to diabetes management. Using a meter or continuous glucose monitoring can provide accurate results. But you might seek a pain-free method to check blood sugar.
Talk with your doctor or a certified diabetes educator. You might be a candidate for a glucose monitoring device that involves fewer finger pricks or no finger pricks.
Additionally, making a few adjustments in the way you collect your blood sample might reduce the level of pain and discomfort.
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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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Fasting Blood Glucose Level Test Preparation
What should you do if your doctor orders a fasting blood sugar test? The preparation is the same as when you take a fasting test for cholesterol. First, be sure to find out if you need to schedule an appointment for your test . Ask your doctor what time is best to take it.
- Schedule your test if necessary
- Ask your doctor if you need to change any of the medications you take on the morning of the test
- If you normally drink coffee or have caffeine, ask your doctor if that is okay. It may not be, since it affects blood sugar levels
- Fast for at least 8 hours before your test. Usually, an overnight fast is most convenient
- You can drink water
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
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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:
- heart disease
- nerve damage
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.
How Do Carbs Affect Blood Sugar
Carbs in food make your blood sugar levels go higher after you eat them than when you eat proteins or fats. You can still eat carbs if you have diabetes. The amount you can have and stay in your target blood sugar range depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors. Counting carbs in foods and drinks is an important tool for managing blood sugar levels. Make sure to talk to your health care team about the best carb goals for you.
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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
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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Different Levels And What They Mean
The ranges of safe levels of blood glucose depend on factors such as what time of day it is and when you last ate. Safe levels of blood sugar are high enough to supply your organs with the sugar they need, but low enough to prevent symptoms of hyperglycemia or complications of diabetes which follow the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases guides. Dangerous levels of blood glucose are outside of this range.
The target levels can also vary if you have diabetes. For example, if you are diabetic and are monitoring your blood sugar, you might get a reading of 65 mg/dl. That is considered to be mild hypoglycemia, and you would be wise to eat 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates and retest your blood sugar in 15 minutes.
If you were not diabetic, you probably would not know that your sugar was low because you would not test and because you would not symptoms, and you would not act.
That is fine because your body is capable, under normal circumstances, of raising your blood glucose to healthy levels when needed, even if you have not eaten. It is important to keep them in control to help prevent issues like heart disease or nerve damage.
Looking for the best prediabetes diet? Learn what foods are best to help you manage your prediabetes.
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.
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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.
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.
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