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.
When Is The Best Time To Check Blood Sugar With Type 2 Diabetes
Generally, healthcare professionals recommend checking blood sugar before meals and at bedtime. However, this can vary depending on a persons diabetes management plan.
When a person has type 2 diabetes, their body cannot regulate the volume of sugar, or glucose, in their blood. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels can be a key tool for managing the condition.
Read on to learn about the benefits, how to check blood sugar levels, the best time to check, and more.
A person with type 2 diabetes may have too much sugar also called glucose in their blood. Glucose is the primary source of energy for all cells.
Type 2 diabetes causes problems with the production or use of insulin, a hormone that breaks down blood glucose. This means the glucose stays in the bloodstream.
If a person has too much glucose in their blood, they can experience complications such as:
- bladder problems
check their blood glucose levels using a blood glucose meter. To use a blood glucose meter, the American Diabetes Association recommends that a person do the following:
This shows the changes in their glucose levels over time.
How Can I Tell If My Blood Sugar Is Irregular
Again, only a doctor can diagnose a problem with your blood sugar. But you may be wondering how to know if it’s something you should get checked out. There can be two main issues with your blood sugar — either it’s consistently too high or too low. Even if you don’t have diabetes, there are some signs that your blood sugar levels are not functioning normally.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your blood sugar is too low. Signs include an irregular heartbeat, fatigue, shakiness and tingling or numbness in your face. If you consistently feel this way when you get hungry or between meals, talk to your health care provider.
On the flip side, hyperglycemia happens when your blood sugar is too high, and can happen to nondiabetics. Symptoms include frequent urination, increased thirst and headache. If you think you’re hyperglycemic and can’t keep fluids or food down, call for emergency medical assistance.
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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.
Tips For Checking Your Blood Sugar With Less Pain
Fingertips have more nerve endings, so this part of the finger tends to be the most sensitive.
If you use a finger prick to check your blood sugar level, a few techniques can make the process less painful whether youre using a glucometer or a continuous glucose monitor.
Blood sugar testing is crucial to diabetes management because high or low blood sugar can cause severe complications. If too much blood sugar accumulates in your bloodstream, you can experience major complications such as:
- difficulty speaking
Blood sugar can fluctuate throughout the day especially after meals, after exercising, and during stressful events. So its important to carefully monitor your blood sugar and keep it within a healthy range.
A blood sugar level less than 140 milligrams per deciliter , but greater than 70 mg/dL is typically considered in the target range.
You should check your blood sugar regularly, even if you arent experiencing symptoms of a high or low glucose level. Some people with high and low blood sugar dont have any symptoms.
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When Should I Test My Blood Sugar
You may need to check your blood sugar several times a day, such as before meals or exercise, at bedtime, before driving, and when you think your blood sugar levels are low.
Everyone is different, so ask your doctor when and how often you should check your blood sugar. If you’re sick, you’ll probably need to test your blood sugar more often.
When To Test Your Blood Sugar
Depending on your unique needs, they may suggest testing blood sugar at any of the following times:
1. Before breakfast
Testing before youve had anything to eat or drink in the morning, also known as a fasting blood sugar, can let you know how well your body manages blood sugar while you sleep. It also gives you a baseline to see changes in your blood sugar throughout the day.
2. Before each meal
Checking blood sugar before meals tells people who inject insulin if they need to take a correction dose of insulin in addition to taking their bolus insulin to cover the meal. When testing in pairs , a pre-meal reading can act as a reference for how the food you eat and any pre-meal medications affect your glucose levels.
3. After each meal
The food you consume has a large effect on your blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends testing 1 to 2 hours after the start of a meal. To determine if your blood sugar level is where it should be, work with your healthcare professional to establish your target after-meal glucose range.
4. Before bedtime
A blood sugar reading taken before bedtime can tell you if your blood sugar is in a safe range, or if you need to have a snack before going to bed. It is also a point of reference for your morning blood sugar test, to compare and get a picture of how your blood sugar levels changed overnight.
5. In the middle of the night
6. Before, during, and after physical activity
8. When youre sick or stressed
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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.
How Do I Record My Blood Sugar Test Results
Keep good records of any blood, urine, or ketone tests you do. Most glucose monitors also have a memory. Your records can alert you to any problems or trends. These test records help your doctor make any needed changes in your meal plan, medicine, or exercise program. Bring these records with you every time you see your doctor.
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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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Other Meters Being Developed
Besides the above four CGMs, other meters are being developed that do not require blood samples. One such CGM is called GlucoTrack by Integrity Applications, which measures blood glucose via your earlobe. However, it hasnt yet been FDA approved.
Other types of technologies may be seen soon to help improve diabetes management without the need for finger pricks. However, standalone smartwatches, contact lenses, and other buzzworthy devices havent yet proven to accurately measure blood glucose.
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Work With Your Health Care Team
Most people with diabetes get health care from a primary care professional. Primary care professionals include internists, family physicians, and pediatricians. Sometimes physician assistants and nurses with extra training, called nurse practitioners, provide primary care. You also will need to see other care professionals from time to time. A team of health care professionals can help you improve your diabetes self-care. Remember, you are the most important member of your health care team.
Besides a primary care professional, your health care team may include
- an endocrinologist for more specialized diabetes care
- a registered dietitian, also called a nutritionist
If You Test 2 Hours After Meals:
This is an immediate way to know how your meal plan might be affecting your blood glucose levels. Diabetes Canada recommends an after-meal target of 5-10 mmol/L.1 Your results will tell you if you need to adjust what you eat or by how much. Make sure to keep in mind that the two hours is timed from the start of your meal.
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What Is Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, or glucose, is your body’s main energy source. We get glucose from the food we eat, and our blood carries it around to all the cells in the body to give them energy to function. Glucose mainly comes from the carbohydrates we eat, though our bodies can convert protein and fat into sugar too if needed.
Glucose from protein is typically stored in the liver and doesn’t enter the bloodstream, so eating protein-rich foods won’t raise your blood sugar too much. Fats slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which causes a delayed rise in blood sugar. High blood sugar can be an issue because it usually leads to sugar crashes, which are no fun — symptoms include fatigue, headaches and the jitters. So, eat meals balanced with protein, fat and carbs to avoid this.
Blood sugar is closely related to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps your body use glucose that’s in the carbohydrates you eat. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugar levels — if you eat more sugar than you need in the moment, the hormone helps store the glucose in your liver until it’s needed for energy.
You probably also know about blood sugar in the context of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which people are unable to make insulin, so they need to inject the hormone in order to keep their blood sugar levels stable. People with Type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs later in life, either don’t secrete insulin or are resistant to it.
When Is The Best Time To Test Blood Sugar
by Patient Advocate
The preferred time to test blood sugar isn’t before breakfast any more. Researchers looking at studies of hundreds of people with type 2 diabetes suggest that high blood glucose levels after meals has a greater effect on A1C levels among people who have their diabetes under good control than among those with poor control.
When A1C results are low – less than 7.3 percent – mealtime glucose contributes about 70 percent of the A1C. However, when A1C results are high – greater than 10.2 percent – fasting blood glucose contributes 70 percent of the A1C value.
If your A1C levels are above 7.0 percent, you run a much greater risk of complications. That means getting your diabetes under control needs to be your top priority. After you do that, you can concentrate on testing after meals.
But do we start counting from the beginning, the middle, or the end of the meal? And should we test one, two, or more hours after eating?
There is a great variation in the length of a meal. So it is more precise to start counting from the time of the first bite. Another reason to start counting from the beginning of a meal is because our glucose levels begin to rise about 10 minutes after the start of a meal.
The exception, according to the ADA, is women who have diabetes and are pregnant. They could benefit more from testing one hour after eating.
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Why You May Not Notice A High Blood Sugar Level
Blood sugar levels can vary between 40mg/dl and 400mg/dl depending on what you eat, how much you weigh, how much you exercise, and when you eat and drink. Diabetes is a condition that can cause the body to become resistant to insulin, a hormone that controls sugar levels in the blood. Most people can generally detect a slightly elevated sugar level. But sometimes the sugar level can be high even though you feel fine and your insulin levels are normal. This is called an unexplained high blood sugar level. Some people with diabetes dont have any symptoms, or they may have numbness in their fingers and toes. They may also experience blurred vision, headache, or weakness. If you feel a bit shaky, you might have had a blood sugar level that is higher than normal. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if your blood sugar level is consistently high.
Why Checking Your Blood Sugar Is Crucial
Monitoring your blood sugar helps your doctor determine if your treatment plan is working and if your medication needs adjusting. Blood sugar thats too high, referred to as hyperglycemia, or too low, known as hypoglycemia can cause health problems such as dizziness, confusion, blurred vision and even coma. The good news: A patient with well-controlled type 2 diabetes whos treated with metformin may only check their glucose a few times a week or month, says Dr. Kohlenberg.
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What Is Blood Glucose
Glucose mainly comes from carbohydrates in the food and drinks you consume. Its your bodys main source of energy. Your blood carries glucose to all of your bodys cells to use for energy.
Several bodily processes help keep your blood glucose in a healthy range. Insulin, a hormone your pancreas makes, is the most significant contributor to maintaining healthy blood sugar.
If you have elevated blood glucose levels , it usually indicates diabetes. Diabetes develops when your pancreas doesnt make any insulin or enough insulin or your body isnt responding to the effects of insulin properly.
Whats A Blood Glucose Meter
A blood glucose meter is a small, portable machine that measures the amount of glucose in the blood. You place a drop of blood taken from a fingerstick and put it on a test strip, which you insert into the meter. The meter tells your childs blood sugar now, as you do the test.
Many types of meters are available. The care team will help you find the meter that is best for your child, and theyll show you how to use it. Blood glucose meters vary by:
- Cost. Ask your insurance company which blood glucose meters they cover. Its also good to ask about your coverage for test strips.
- User-friendliness. Choose a meter that is easy to use and take care of.
- Special features. Meters come in different sizes. Some can store extra information like dates, times, food intake, and exercise. Others can download readings so your provider can easily see this information.
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Blood Sugar Monitoring For People With Diabetes Offers Undeniable Health Benefits
For people with diabetes, a major goal of therapy is to keep the blood sugar close to the normal range. This helps to prevent symptoms and complications, prolong life, and improve quality of life.
The development of CGM devices that can frequently and easily monitor blood sugar levels without finger sticks has revolutionized care for millions of people with diabetes. Besides providing results of blood sugar levels, some devices have alarm settings that alert the user, or other people, if blood sugar becomes dangerously low or high. And some systems can transmit results directly to the users doctor, if desired.
How Do I Measure My Blood Sugar Level
Follow your doctors advice and the instructions that come with the BGM or CGM. Different meters work differently, so be sure to check with your doctor for advice specifically for you. With a BGM, youll usually follow the steps below:
- Wash your hands and dry them well before doing the test.
- Use an alcohol pad to clean the area that youre going to prick. For most glucose meters, you will prick your fingertip. However, with some meters, you can also use your forearm, thigh, or the fleshy part of your hand. Ask your doctor what area you should use with your meter.
- Prick yourself with a sterile lancet to get a drop of blood.
- Place the drop of blood on the test strip.
- Follow the instructions for inserting the test strip into your glucose meter.
- The meter will give you a number for your blood sugar level.
If you have a CGM, youll follow the insertion directions that come with the monitor. Once its warmed up, the transmitter wirelessly sends the data to your computer or smartphone.
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