The Best Time To Check Blood Sugar
Kathi Valeii is a freelance writer covering the intersections of health, parenting, and social justice.
Living with diabetes includes monitoring your blood sugar levels. Most people do this by pricking their fingers with a blood sugar meter , which measures sugar in a small amount of blood.
Some people use a continuous glucose monitor , a sensor under the skin that checks blood sugar every few minutes. People who use a CGM must also use a blood sugar meter daily to ensure their CGM is accurate.
When you have diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is crucial because keeping blood sugar in a target range can help prevent complications, including:
- Vision problems
When you check your blood sugar matters. There are several times throughout the day that health experts recommend checking your blood sugar.
This article explains the importance of monitoring your blood sugar, how blood sugar is measured, and how to check it.
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Create A Journal To Log Your Blood Sugar Each Time You Test It
There are also apps available that can help you track this information and keep a running tally of your average blood sugar. You may also want to record the time of day youre testing and how long its been since you last ate.
This information will help your doctor track your blood sugar and can be important when diagnosing whats causing your blood sugar to spike.
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
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Why Check Blood Sugars
Checking your childs blood sugar tells you the amount of glucose in your childs blood and is a key part of daily care. Each time you check, you will know if your childs blood sugar is inside or outside the healthy range set by the care team.
Checking blood sugars regularly can help you and your child:
- Feel more in control of diabetes.
- Find out how food, exercise, and diabetes medicine affect the blood sugar.
- Know when you need to make any changes to food, exercise, and diabetes medicines.
- Prevent health problems that can happen now or in the future.
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How Accurate Are A1c Tests
Nowadays theyre quite accurate. In the past, results varied a lot and depended on the machine that checked your blood sample. But, in recent years, a strict quality control program The National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program standardized more than 99% of the A1C tests in the U.S. Thats huge, and it means that your A1C should be pretty similar wherever you get it tested.
The A1C isnt a perfect test, but it has a few important advantages over other diabetes tests. First, its pretty consistent. Its also convenient. It does not require fasting, special timing, or any kind of other preparation. Thats why experts consider it the gold-standard test for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes.
As mentioned above, the exception to this is point-of-care testing. While these tests are fairly accurate, they should be used only for monitoring A1C in people with diabetes rather than for diagnosing new diabetes.
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Other Reasons For High Morning Blood Sugar Levels
If you continuously wake up with high blood sugar levels and haven’t eaten a bedtime snack the night before, your doctor may need to prescribe you more basal insulin , says Dr. Spratt.
However, if you typically eat a snack that contains carbohydrates before going to bed and don’t counteract it with rapid-acting insulin, your blood sugar levels may be higher in the morning as a result. Switch to a snack that won’t raise your blood sugar levels â for example, a pairing of ham and cheese or a few bites of non-sweetened peanut butter, she says.
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Lastly, if your blood sugar levels dip too low in the middle of the night, your body may release hormones that “rescue” you from dangerously low levels, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The result is that your liver releases stored glucose, causing your blood sugar levels to be higher than usual in the morning. This is called the Somogyi effect.
If you’re experiencing low blood sugar in the four to six hours after a meal, that’s a sign that your basal insulin dose is too high, says Dr. Spratt.
“A lot of people have lows of which they are not aware of,” she says. “They wake up and their blood sugar is high and assume they must need more insulin at night.” But, she explains, it’s important to check your blood sugar at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. to make sure you aren’t experiencing a drop in glucose levels.
Target Blood Glucose Levels After Meals By Age
Your target blood sugar level after eating will depend on how old you are, whether or not you have diabetes and how you are treating it , and whether or not you are pregnant.
Here are some general guidelines for post-meal blood glucose levels:
- Children with diabetes: < 200mg/dl one hour after eating < 180 mg/dL two hours after eating
- Adults without diabetes who are not pregnant: 90-140 mg/dL two hours after eating
- Adults with diabetes who are not pregnant:< 180 mg/dL two hours after eating
- Adults with diabetes taking mealtime insulin: < 180 mg/dL two hours after eating
- Adults with diabetes not taking mealtime insulin:< 140 mg/dL two hours after eating
- Adults with gestational diabetes:< 140 mg/dL one hour after eating < 120 mg/dL two hours after eating
- Pregnant people with preexisting type 1 or type 2 diabetes:< 110-140 mg/dL one hour after eating < 100-120 mg/dL two hours after eating
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Establish A Routine For How Often And When You Should Test Your Blood Sugar
Work with your doctor to plan your routine. They may suggest checking it while youre fasting, before and after meals, or before bedtime. Each persons situation is different, so its important to decide on an arrangement that will work for you.
When youve set that schedule, make checking your blood part of your daily routine. Build it into your day. Many meters have alarms you can set to help you to remember to test. When testing becomes a part of your day, youll be less likely to forget.
Before And After Meals And Snacks
If you eat first thing in the morning, your first blood sugar check of the day can also count as your pre-meal check, but if you dont, youll need to check again before breakfast.
This can inform you as to how much insulin youll need for your meal . If youre running a little high, youll need to bolus extra, but if your blood sugar is on the lower end, you can take a little less insulin for any carbohydrates eaten.
Checking before every meal and snack can help curb postprandial glucose excursions, otherwise known as the stubborn high blood sugars you sometimes can experience after eating a meal and not adequately bolusing for said meal.
Ideally, you should also be checking 2 hours after all meals as well, to determine if your meal bolus was adequate, if you took too much insulin, or if you need to adjust and take more insulin.
Two hours is the recommended time frame, because by then most carbohydrates have been absorbed into the body and most fast-acting insulin has already peaked.
When checking before snacks , make sure youre calculating any active insulin on board so you dont overtreat a high and end up going low.
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How A Winter Cold Affects Blood Sugar Testing
When youre sick, your body produces extra stress hormones , which can raise your blood sugar levels, says Betul Hatipoglu, M.D., professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH. As a result, illness, especially infection, can put those with type 1 diabetes at risk for a diabetes emergency called diabetic ketoacidosis, adds Dr. Thomas. This is a complication resulting from not enough insulin and needs to be treated immediately with fluids and additional insulin medication. Testing your blood glucose levels regularly can help you spot a spike like this and take action quickly.
At 2 Am/middle Of The Night
Overnight blood glucose checks, while inconvenient, are typically done to screen for hypoglycemia as it is more common to not feel a low blood sugar overnight and to sleep through a hypoglycemia event. If you wake up with a headache or a stomach ache it may be due to low blood sugar that unknowingly occurred overnight.
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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.
Monitoring Your Blood Sugar Level
Last Updated May 2022 | This article was created by familydoctor.org editorial staff and reviewed by Robert “Chuck” Rich, Jr., MD, FAAFP
If you have diabetes, its important to monitor your blood sugar at different times of the day and throughout the year. There are 3 tools that can help you do this and, therefore, manage your diabetes: A blood test done every three months, blood tests taken every day, and a system that constantly monitors your blood glucose.
The 3-month blood test is called an A1C test. This test reflects your blood sugar control over the past 2-3 months. Testing your A1C level every 3 months is the best way for you and your doctor to understand how well your blood sugar levels are controlled. Your doctor will likely be the one who orders an A1C test. However, you can also purchase over-the-counter A1C testing kits that you can use at home. Your A1C goal will be determined by your doctor. However, the goal is generally less than 7% or 8%, depending on your age.
The daily blood test is done with a blood glucose monitor . This is also called a home blood sugar meter, a glucometer, or a glucose meter. This type of testing is often referred to as self-monitoring of blood glucose. Your doctor may prescribe a BGM, especially if your blood sugar fluctuates. They will show you how to use it.
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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
What Is Diabetes Anyway
or the affected person could possibly modify the insulin doses to coincide with meals and train.
Your well being care supplier or certified diabetes care and training specialist can recommend an appropriate system for you He or she will also help you learn how to use your meter Checking your blood sugar is simple and can be carried Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar out at residence with the proper gear.
Depending on what type of diabetes you ve, blood sugar monitoring, insulin and oral drugs may play a role in your treatment When Are You Supposed To Check Your Blood Sugar Eating a nutritious diet, sustaining a wholesome weight and taking part in common exercise also are important factors in managing diabetes Throughout the day, it s not uncommon for blood sugar levels to Normal Blood Sugar go up and down primarily based on if you eat and how your physique releases a hormone referred to as insulin.
In severe circumstances it may lead to lack of consciousness and even mind damage At fasting means earlier than breakfast regular blood sugar stage is less than a hundred mg dL On the opposite hand, at random means after two hours of consuming normal blood sugar stage is less than a hundred Blood Sugar Levels and forty mg dL.
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Which Is Right For You
Finding the best glucose monitoring system that is right for you is about finding the choice that best suits your needs. By considering the benefits and limitations between the different systems that are available in Canada, you can find a system that meets your individual requirements while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your diabetes care routine.
Our glucose monitoring comparison chart provides a summary of CGM, Flash glucose monitoring devices and test strips and meters.
Whats My Target Range
You might be asking, what’s the normal range for blood sugar levels? The answer is, there is a healthy range that you should ideally be aiming for. The infographics above show the general guidelines, but your individual target range for your blood sugar levels may be different. Youll healthcare team will agree with you what it is.
Youll get different readings at different times of the day, depending on things like what youve eaten and how much you are moving around. Heres a guide to help you get started on finding your target range:
If youre a child with type 1 diabetes
- when you wake up and before meals: 4 to 7mmol/l
- after meals: 5 to 9mmol/l
If youre an adult with type 1 diabetes
- when you wake up and before meals: 5 to 7mmol/l
- before meals at other times of the day: 4 to 7mmol/l
If you have type 2 diabetes
- before meals: 4 to 7mmol/l
- two hours after meals: less than 8.5mmol/l
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Random Blood Sugar Test
This measures your blood sugar at the time youre tested. You can take this test at any time and dont need to fast first. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
|140 mg/dL or below||N/A|
*Results for gestational diabetes can differ. Ask your health care provider what your results mean if youre being tested for gestational diabetes.Source: American Diabetes Association
If your doctor thinks you have type 1 diabetes, your blood may also tested for autoantibodies that are often present in type 1 diabetes but not in type 2 diabetes. You may have your urine tested for ketones , which also indicate type 1 diabetes instead of type 2 diabetes.
What If Your Glucose Levels Are Abnormal
Health conditions such as diabetes and hypoglycemia will obviously have a big impact on your blood sugar levels. Pregnancy can also affect your blood sugar, which sometimes results in gestational diabetes for the duration of the pregnancy.
The American Diabetes Association points out that every persons recommended blood sugar level is different and is based on several health factors. But, in general, the target range for glucose levels in diabetes is 80 to 130 milligrams/deciliter before eating and less than 180 mg/dl after a meal.
If your glucose levels dont fall within the normal range, you and your doctor will need to make a plan to determine the reason why. Additional testing for diabetes, hypoglycemia, certain medical conditions, and other endocrine issues may be necessary to identify why your blood sugar is too high or too low.
Continue to monitor your blood glucose levels while you wait on test appointments or test results. If you experience any of the following symptoms, let your doctor know right away:
- unexplained dizziness
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Why Are Some Children Screened For Diabetes
Diabetes can also occur in children. Most children with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. However, children who become overweight can also develop type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common. For this reason, obese children and young people should have a screening blood test for diabetes, especially if there are other people in the whnau/family who have diabetes.