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How To Test Your Blood Sugar Levels | 7 Simple Steps | Diabetes UK

Diabetes, also known as Diabetes Mellitus, is a metabolic condition wherein the body either does not produce enough insulin hormone or simply does not utilize the insulin hormone efficiently.

This results in an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream. The condition is a chronic disorder, if not treated or managed carefully, can lead to life-threatening complications such as impaired vision, kidney failure, nerve damage, heart attack, stroke, and lower-extremity amputations.

It is vital to monitor and manage blood sugar levels using blood sugar charts and blood sugar log sheets. This is considered a critical element in diabetes management and successful diabetes treatment. This article will cover everything you need to know about blood sugar levels , types of diabetes and its symptoms, blood sugar charts, and blood sugar log sheets.

Taking Your Insulin Medication

If you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas and you will need daily insulin treatment.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, does not require insulin treatment although you may need it in certain cases.

Insulin treatments are the fastest way to lower your blood sugar immediately, especially rapid-acting insulin.

Insulin therapy is usually delivered through an insulin injection or an insulin pump.

How Does Blood Sugar Level Work

With a lack of nutrients and food that contain glucose, the blood sugar level will begin to decline. This is known as hypoglycemia.

After blood sugar becomes low, the pancreas releases a peptide hormone called glucagon. When this happens, the glucose that is stored in the body for energy is instructed to release due to the liver. This causes the glucose to turn into glycogen, known as the glycogenesis process. This is what can help a body to regain energy as the readily stored glycogen, in the liver and muscles, will release into the body.

On the other hand, the blood sugar can also rise and become too high which is known as hyperglycemia.

When the body does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, blood sugar levels begin to increase. This is because glucose relies on the insulin hormone to help it absorb into the bloodstream. Usually, this occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin, known as type 1 diabetes, or does not respond to insulin correctly, known as type 2 diabetes.

Eating too many processed foods can also cause your blood sugar level to rise. If there is not enough insulin present in the body, too much bad food can cause your blood sugar level to build up.

For those with a normal blood sugar level, this will be due to eating the right foods and your body being able to produce and respond to insulin.

You may be wondering what exactly causes an imbalance in blood sugar levels, so here is a roundup:

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Hypoglycemia Vs Hyperglycemia Common Symptoms

Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar, whereas hyperglycemia is high blood sugar. Both conditions can lead to significant health problems for people living with diabetes, and therefore diabetic patients must keep their blood sugar levels within a healthy range.

Hypoglycemia occurs with diabetes when you take too much insulin or another diabetes medication. Too much medication in the bloodstream causes the bodys cells to absorb too much glucose leading to low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia with diabetes may also occur when you eat less than usual or increase your level of exercise. Hyperglycemia with diabetes can occur depending on whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. In type 1 and type 2 diabetes, glucose can build up in the bloodstream leading to high blood sugar levels.

Common symptoms that indicate hypoglycemia include lightheadedness, confusion, dizziness, nervousness, anxiety, sweating, fast heart rate, Fainting, tingling lips, sleepiness, irritability, pale skin, hunger, clamminess, and shakiness.

Common symptoms of hyperglycemia include frequent urination, blurred vision, increased thirst, weight loss, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and fatigue.

High Blood Pressure And Exercise Precautions

What are the normal blood sugar levels?

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What Is Hemoglobin A1c

Hemoglobin A1C is a lab test. It indicates an average blood glucose reading for the last 90 days. It is done when you find out you have diabetes, and every 3 months after that at clinic visits. A person without diabetes has a Hemoglobin A1C of less than 5.6%.

Target Hgb A1C is 7.5% for all children and adults with diabetes.

The chart below shows the Hemoglobin A1C result compared with the blood glucose number.

What Are The Effects Of Diabetes Type 1 And Type 2

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus are chronic diseases that can have serious complications. People with diabetes mellitus have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage. Diabetes mellitus is also a leading cause of blindness and amputations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about one in every four deaths in the United States is caused by diabetes mellitus.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic disease that affects children and adults. People with type 1 diabetes mellitus need to take insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes mellitus, also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic disease that usually affects adults.

People with type 2 diabetes mellitus can control their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise. However, some people with type 2 diabetes mellitus may need to take insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus are serious diseases that can lead to complications if not properly managed. People with diabetes mellitus should work with their healthcare team to create a treatment plan that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and blood sugar monitoring.

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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.

What If The Blood Glucose Check Result Doesnt Sound Right

How to test your blood glucose (sugar) levels

If youre not convinced that a result is correct, heres a suggested check list:

  • Have the strips expired?
  • Is the meter too hot or too cold?
  • Is the calibration code correct?
  • Is the battery low or flat?

All meters will give a different result with a different drop of blood. As long as there is not a big difference there is not usually cause for concern.

The accuracy of all meters can be checked with meter-specific liquid drops called control solutions. If you are concerned, you can arrange to have your meter checked with a control solution. Your Credentialled Diabetes Educator or pharmacist can help you with this.

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How Do I Check My Blood Glucose Levels

Refer to your blood glucose meters instructions on how to monitor your blood glucose levels.

Your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator will help you decide how many checks are needed and the levels to aim for. When and how often you should check your blood glucose levels varies depending on each individual, the type of diabetes and the tablets and/or insulin being used. Blood glucose levels are measured in millimoles per litre of blood .

Keeping a record of your blood glucose levels can be very helpful for you and your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator. You can keep a diary or use a mobile phone app or website to record your levels.

What Affects Your Results

If you have certain conditions, like anemia or gout, or if it’s hot or humid or you’re at a high altitude, that can affect your blood sugar levels.

If you keep seeing unusual results, recalibrate your meter and check the test strips.

The chart below gives you an idea of where your blood sugar level should be throughout the day. Your ideal blood sugar range may be different from another person’s and will change throughout the day.

Time of Test

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Normal Sugar Levels After Eating

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How Do I Check My Blood Sugar

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Checking your blood sugar is simple and can be done at home with the right equipment. The most traditional and effective way of doing so is with a glucose meter. You wash your hands to wash away germs, prick your finger with a needle, apply the blood from the pricked finger to a test strip and insert it into the machine. Your blood sugar level will appear on the meters display. Alternatively, there are a few modern methods that have been developed. They show results but are considered not to be as accurate as glucose meters.

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How Do I Take Care Of My Blood Glucose Meter

  • Set the date and time when you get a new meter.
  • Make sure the date and time are right each time you use your meter.
  • Use the control solution as needed. This will let you know the meter and test strips are working right. Use it:
  • When you get a new meter.
  • When you get new test strips.
  • When you think that the meter is not giving you the right blood glucose number.
  • Keep the meter and test strips out of very hot or very cold temperatures. This can cause blood glucose numbers to be wrong.
  • Keep meter and test strips in a case, away from sunlight.
  • Keep test strips in the container they come in. Keep the lid closed.
  • Keep extra batteries with your meter.
  • There is a phone number on the back of each blood glucose meter. Call that number if your meter is not working or you have questions about how to use your meter.
  • Times To Check More Often

    There will be times when you need to check more often, however you should first discuss this with your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator. Example of these times include when you are:

    • Being more physically active or less physically active
    • Sick or stressed
    • Experiencing changes in routine or eating habits, e.g. travelling
    • Changing or adjusting your insulin or medication
    • Experiencing symptoms of hypoglycaemia
    • Experiencing night sweats or morning headaches
    • A female planning pregnancy or are pregnant.
    • Pre/post minor surgical day procedures
    • Post dental procedures

    Your Credentialled Diabetes Educator can help you work out self-monitoring approach especially for you.

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    Why It Is Necessary To Know About Blood Sugar Numbers

    Testing blood sugar levels is especially important for people living with diabetes. Continuously monitoring your blood sugar numbers helps you manage your diabetes, meaning that you will reduce your risks of developing severe health problems such as organ failures or vision loss. In addition, while checking your blood sugar levels, you will be able to identify what makes your glucose levels fluctuate. This information will help you establish what is working for you and what needs to be changed to manage your diabetic condition successfully.

    How Much Do Walnuts Lower Blood Sugar

    What is a normal blood sugar level?

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    How Can I Check My Blood Sugar

    Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.

    What Are The Target Ranges

    Blood glucose targets are individualized based on:

    • duration of diabetes
    • conditions a person may have
    • cardiovascular disease or diabetes complications
    • hypoglycemia unawareness
    • individual patient considerations

    The American Diabetes Association suggests the following targets for most nonpregnant adults with diabetes. A1C targets differ based on age and health. Also, more or less stringent glycemic goals may be appropriate for each individual.

    • A1C: Less than 7%A1C may also be reported as eAG: Less than 154 mg/dL
    • Before a meal : 80130 mg/dL
    • 1-2 hours after beginning of the meal *: Less than 180 mg/dL

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperglycemia

    There are numerous signs and symptoms that your body may exhibit to let you know your blood glucose levels are too high. These include:

    • Weight loss despite eating more
    • Poor wound healing
    • Tingling in feet or heels
    • Erectile dysfunction

    If you have any of these symptoms please seek medical attention and talk to your doctor or diabetes health care team about a diabetes management plan.

    What Are Blood Sugar Targets

    Free Blood Sugar Chart for Excel

    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.

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    Who Should Check

    Talk to your doctor about whether you should be checking your blood glucose. People who may benefit from checking blood glucose regularly include those:

    • taking insulin.
    • having a hard time reaching your blood glucose targets.
    • having low blood glucose levels.
    • having low blood glucose levels without the usual warning signs.
    • have ketones from high blood glucose levels.

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