Checking your blood sugar: a personal and professional perspective
“I feel like a pincushion!” “These numbers don’t make any sense!” “It’s annoying to have to test my blood sugar all of the time!” If any of these phrases sounds familiar, you are not alone. Checking blood sugar is one of the least favorite tasks for people with diabetes. So why is it so important to check your blood sugar regularly? The answer to that question is simply…FEEDBACK!
Living with diabetes involves a lot of work, day in and day out. You have to eat healthy and follow your meal plan. You try to fit in daily physical activity. You take your diabetes pills and/or insulin as your doctor prescribes. How do you know whether it’s all working? Checking your blood sugar gives you the feedback, or information, to manage your diabetes better and stay healthy for the long run, avoiding the long-term complications that uncontrolled blood sugar can cause in many parts of the body.
What kind of feedback is provided by checking your blood sugar? Let’s look at a few examples based on typical times you might check.
Fasting blood sugar, meaning first thing in the morning before breakfast: This result will tell you what happened with your blood sugar throughout the night. If your blood sugar is higher than it should be in the morning, it might mean that your bedtime snack contained too many carbohydrates and you need to cut back. If it’s too low, you might need to add a bedtime snack with about 15 grams of carbohydrate.
Before meals: If you take insulin before each meal, checking your blood sugar before meals can help determine how much insulin you need to take. If you’re not on insulin, knowing where your blood sugar is before a meal might help you figure out whether you need a bit less carbohydrate at that meal, or a little more.
After a meal: Checking your blood sugar 2 hours after the start of a meal gives you feedback about how that meal affected your blood sugar. If your blood sugar was in your target range before the meal, but higher than 180 mg/dL 2 hours later, you need to take a close look at the type and portion sizes of carbohydrate foods in that meal. This can help you figure out where the excess was so you can make adjustments the next time you eat that particular meal.
Bedtime: It is important to check your blood sugar at bedtime, especially if you take insulin. Generally, if the result is less than 100 mg/dL, eat a 15 gram carbohydrate snack with a little protein to keep your blood sugar from taking a nose-dive during the overnight hours.
Feeling symptoms of high or low blood sugar: You can’t always rely on how your body feels. Verify what you’re feeling by checking your blood sugar.
Before exercise: Exercise lowers blood sugar. Check your blood sugar before you exercise to make sure it is at least 100 mg/dL. If it’s not and you will be exercising for 30 minutes or more, eat a small snack, such as a small apple or orange. Keep in mind that if your blood sugar is 250 mg/dL or more and you have ketones in your urine, you should not exercise, as your blood sugar might increase.
Before driving: Checking your blood sugar before driving is a safety issue. Make sure that your blood sugar is at least 100 mg/dL before you take the wheel to keep yourself and others safe on the road.
The information and feedback you get from checking your blood sugar is also important to your doctor. Your doctor or health care provider uses that information to detect patterns in your blood sugar at different times of the day. This helps them determine whether a change in your diabetes medication or insulin is required. Although meters today have a built in memory, you might also want to keep a logbook of your results, including notes about unusual events that might have affected your results, such as “sick with flu today,” or “had small piece of birthday cake.” The more information you provide, the better. If your doctor or health care provider doesn’t ask for your logbook or meter, make it a point to take it out and ask them to review it.
A reliable, accurate meter is an essential for managing your diabetes. OneTouch meters by LifeScan are one of the brands most trusted by people with diabetes and their health care providers. No matter what your specific needs are, OneTouch has a meter that will work for you. Edwards Health Care Services carries a full line of OneTouch meters, and their customer care representatives can help you determine which meter is right for you.
To find out more information, please complete this enrollment form or call 1-888-344-3434 to speak with a representative regarding LifeScan meters and testing supplies.