Why Test 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.
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 Is The Best Time To Test For Blood Sugar
Doctors usually do a fasting blood sugar test in the morning, after fasting for 8 hours . People can do a random test or an OGTT at any time, without fasting, but the OGTT takes 2 to 3 hours to complete.
A post-prandial test is specifically for use after eating or drinking. An A1C test shows how glucose levels have fluctuated over the last 3 months.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Most people have symptoms of low blood sugar when their blood sugar is less than 70 mg/dL. When your blood sugar is low, your body gives out signs that you need food. Common early symptoms of low blood sugar include the following:
Late symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Feeling confused
- Being unable keep your mind on one subject
- Numbness in your mouth and tongue
How Blood Sugar Is Measured
There are different devices you can use to measure your blood sugar, which work by checking the levels of glucose, or sugar, in your bloodstream. Blood sugar meters or glucometers take a drop of blood to measure your blood sugar at one particular momentwell get to the specifics on how it works in a minute. Continuous glucose meters or CGMs, use a sensor inserted under the skin with a tiny needle to measure blood sugar every few minutes. They sync up to an app, watch, or receiver that stores information about your readings. Then the patient can review their blood sugar data on their device or keep a detailed written log.
CGMs are worn continuously to give you feedback about your blood sugar 24/7 through a sensor placed under the skin of the arm or belly. They can provide very valuable insights and patterns to help you understand how your body best responds to diet and lifestyle factors that impact blood sugar, Palinski-Wade explains. People who wear CGMs still need to use a blood sugar meter once a day to make sure their CGM readings are accurate, says the CDC.
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How To Track Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar vacillates throughout the day due to many factors, says Megan Wolf, a registered dietitian and diabetes care and education specialist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The preferred way to keep track of it? Whatever works best for you. This may include journaling numbers into a logbook or typing blood sugar readings into an app, says Wolf. A lot of my patients find continuous glucose monitors helpful. Glucometers and continuous glucose monitoring systems store glucose data that can be uploaded to a computer. Then the patient can review their blood sugar data on their device or keep a detailed written log.
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.
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What Is A Blood Glucose Test
A blood glucose test is a blood test that mainly screens for diabetes by measuring the level of glucose in your blood.
There are two main types of blood glucose tests:
- Capillary blood glucose test: A healthcare professional collects a drop of blood usually from a fingertip prick. These tests involve a test strip and glucose meter , which show your blood sugar level within seconds.
- Venous blood glucose test: A phlebotomist collects a sample of blood from a vein . These glucose tests are usually part of a blood panel, such as a basic metabolic panel. The provider will send the samples to a lab. There, a medical laboratory scientist will prepare your samples and perform the test on machines known as analyzers.
Venous blood glucose tests are generally more accurate than capillary blood glucose tests.
Healthcare providers often order fasting blood glucose tests to screen for diabetes. Since eating food affects blood sugar, fasting blood glucose tests show a more accurate picture of your baseline blood sugar.
Theres also at-home blood sugar testing for people who have diabetes. People with Type 1 diabetes especially need to monitor their blood sugar multiple times a day to effectively manage the condition. Continuous glucose monitoring devices are another option for this.
The Importance Of Checking Your Blood Sugar For Type 2 Diabetes
Hypoglycemia is when you have abnormally low blood glucose, and its one of the most common diabetes complications. To receive a hypoglycemia diagnosis, you will need a plasma glucose concentration of less than 70 mg/dL.
According to one study,² 46.5% of people with type 2 diabetes and 83% with type 1 diabetes get hypoglycemia. Type 2 diabetes can lead to severe hypoglycemia complications when its uncontrolled. Another study³ said it can increase your chances of death by six times.
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Low Blood Glucose Levels
Hypoglycaemia is when your blood glucose level below is too low . This can occur when on insulin injections or medications that make the pancreas produce more insulin. This is why it is important to know how your medication works. If unsure, ask your healthcare professional or Pharmacist how your medication works and if it could cause hypoglycaemia.
Signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia include:
- Excessive sweating
- Change from normal behaviour e.g. unusually aggressive or tearful
Low blood glucose levels can be caused by:
- Delayed or missed meal/snack
- Eating less starchy food than usual
- Being more activity than usual
- Taking too much insulin or diabetes tablets
- Drinking too much alcohol or drinking alcohol without having starchy food
Treating a low blood glucose level
Treat immediately with 15-20grams of fast acting carbohydrate
- 170ml of Lucozade
- 200ml of smooth orange juice
- 4-5 GlucoTabs, 5-6 dextrose tablets or 4 jelly babies
- Non-diet fizzy drink Regularly check label of product since some manufactuerers are planning to reduce the sugar content of their drinks due to Soft Drinks Industry Levy
After 5-10 minutes if blood glucose level is still below 4 mmol/l, repeat one of the above. Once blood glucose is 4 mmol/l or higher then have something to eat such as:
- A slice of bread
- Two plain biscuits or crackers
- Or your usual meal if it is due.
If unconscious, nothing should be given by mouth and paramedics should be called.
/8the Right Way To Test Your Blood Sugar Levels
– Wash your hands and dry them properly with the help of a clean cotton towel .
– Do not put too little or too much blood on the test strip.
– Try to prick the side of the fingertip.
– Follow a consistent schedule to test your blood sugar levels.
Read here: Factors that can give you an inaccurate blood sugar reading
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Please consult your treating physician for more details.
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/8different Times When You Should Check Your Blood Sugar Levels
– If you are someone who is newly diagnosed with high blood sugar, it’s important for you to take the blood sugar test more often. Note down this data and share with the doctor, it will help him shape an appropriate treatment plan for you.
– If you take insulin, doctors will recommend you to take three or more blood sugar readings throughout the day.
When Is The Best Time To Check Blood Sugar
You should discuss the best time to check blood sugar and how often with your doctor. Still, here’s an overview.
When measuring fasting blood sugar, as soon as you wake up is typically the best time to test. You should check either two hours after a meal or before eating since that’s when your blood sugar levels are generally in the normal range.
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How Meds Impact Blood Sugar Testing
Its important to check blood sugar more frequently if your physician changes your diabetes medications or if youre prescribed other medications, including steroids and certain antibiotics, which can affect blood sugar, notes Wolf. Depending on the drug, it can do wonky things to your blood sugar soon after taking it, sometimes within a few hours. For example, glucocorticoids such as prednisone can cause hyperglycemia via multiple mechanisms, adds Dr. Kohlenberg. His advice: Anytime you start a new medication, review it with your physician to see if this will impact your glucose and diabetes treatment plan.
Can I Check My Own Blood Sugar
You can do blood sugar level check by doing a finger-prick test, or by using an electronic blood sugar monitor called a flash glucose monitor or CGM. You can do this several times a day helping you keep an eye on your levels as you go about your life and help you work out what to eat and how much medication to take. Find out your ideal target range.
Not everyone with diabetes needs to check their levels like this. Youll need to if you take certain diabetes medication. Always talk to your healthcare team if youre not sure whether thats you theyll give you advice on whether to check them yourself and how often.
And theres also something called an HbA1c, which is a blood test to measure your average blood sugar level over the last three months. Everyone with diabetes is entitled to this check.
High blood sugar levels increase your risk of developing serious complications. However you manage your diabetes, stay in the know about your blood sugar levels
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Best Times To Check Blood Sugar With Type 2 Diabetes
Daily blood sugar checks for type 2 diabetes are individualized and depend on whether you take insulin. If you do, you may need to test before and after meals and before bed, but the frequency could be less often if you take long-acting insulin, the Mayo Clinic notes. If you dont take insulin, you may not need to test your blood sugar, Palinski-Wade says.
It’s typical for your readings to be lower in the morning before you’ve eaten and higher within two hours of having a meal. But in some cases hormone shifts overnight can elevate blood sugar levels in the morning. If you notice your blood sugar is higher upon waking than after eating, your doctor may recommend making changes to your blood sugar medication.
Right Before Lunch Or Dinner
If youre having trouble getting into your goal range right before your next meal, its very possible that your body isnt getting enough insulin overall. This can take a bit of fine-tuning with your healthcare teams support.
Keep in mind that some meals take longer to digest than others. High-fat meals that are also high in carbohydrates can take many hours to digest, affecting your blood sugar for many hours, too. This means that even though its been 4 hours since your last meal, a high-fat meal could be still impacting your blood sugars 4 hours later because its digesting so slowly.
A high blood sugar level before lunch or dinner could suggest:
- What you ate or drank at your last meal is still being digested and you didnt get enough insulin with that meal.
- Your body may need more rapid-acting insulin for your last meal.
- Your body may need more basal/background insulin during that time of day.
- Your body may need some extra help from a non-insulin diabetes medication.
A low blood sugar level before your next meal could suggest:
- Your body may need less basal/background insulin during that time of day.
- If you also engaged in physical activity after your last meal, you may need a reduced meal dose.
Talk to your healthcare team about making any adjustments to your diabetes regimen to help you achieve your blood sugar goals.
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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.
Testing Too Soon After Eating
Knowing when to test and why that information is useful can help you better control your diabetes. “Often, people will test blood sugar half an hour or an hour after they eat,” says Uelmen, but this is sooner than experts recommend.
Testing too soon after you’ve had a meal or a snack will give you results that are probably too high. The solution for better diabetes control: Test fasting blood sugar, and test every time before you eat. Wait two hours after eating to get the best reading.
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Before And After Exercise
This is crucial, because exercising with a low or even in-range blood sugar level can be dangerous, depending on the length and intensity of the exercise you plan to do.
Make sure to work with your doctor to determine an appropriate pre-exercise blood sugar level, but people usually like to have their levels sit a little higher than normal before starting any vigorous cardiovascular exercise to prevent severe hypoglycemia.
On the other hand, some peoples blood sugars tend to rise during exercise, especially if they are doing weightlifting or types of exercise that spike adrenaline levels in the body. Its important to make sure your blood sugar is at an appropriate level in case it will rise during your workout.
You also dont want your blood sugar to be too high before exercise, either. The Mayo Clinic actually advises against people with diabetes exercising if their starting blood sugar is above 250 mg/dL.
This is due to the fact that if a body is exercising without enough insulin in the bloodstream, the liver and kidneys will inadvertently release more sugar into the body, increasing your number even more and putting you at risk for dehydration, ketones, and even increased risk of spiraling into diabetic ketoacidosis .
Always check your blood sugar after exercise as well, as some people require a post-exercise bolus to combat spikes due to temporary pump settings that had decreased their basal rates.
When Is The Best Time To Check Blood Sugar Levels At Home
The glucometer is the best way to observe and track the immediate effects of your food choices, physical activity and other changes to your blood glucose. It helps you to take further action to bring your blood glucose back to the target range recommended by your doctor. Optimal blood glucose control is essential to prevent diabetes complications. Your blood sugar level undergoes alteration during the day, especially after a meal. Hence, monitoring your blood glucose levels at the right time helps in better management of diabetes.
While there is no standard number of measurements that apply to people with diabetes. Unless otherwise indicated, you must generally monitor your blood glucose levels 1 to 4 times a day and this time is based on several factors. The general plan for monitoring BG levels at home is:
- Early morning
- about 90-120 minutes from the moment you started eating
- the evening before bedtime
- when you have the feeling that your sugar levels have spiked.
Type 1 Diabetes
Frequency and time: The frequency and time of home blood glucose checks can vary depending on the individuals goals, but people with type 1 diabetes are required:
- at least 4 checks a day, in routine conditions
- The effect of the carbohydrates taken should be checked 1 or 2 hours after a meal.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus in conventional or mixed insulin therapy
Heres an overview of when to check your blood glucose levels and the course of action it may require.
When to Test
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