Regularly monitoring your blood glucose at home helps you better control your glucose levels and gives your doctor a clear picture of how well your medication is working. If you’re taking your medications as directed, and your blood glucose is not under control, your doctor will be able to change the timing or dosage of medicine to be more effective.
What does it involve?
Blood glucose monitors can test both blood and urine samples for glucose, although blood tests are more accurate. There are many types of monitors available; some only take blood from a finger stick and others can take it from a variety of sources. It’s best to use the same areas of the body over time, as readings can vary a great deal when taken from different places. Make sure whatever monitor you choose has affordable testing strips.
Your doctor will be able to tell you when you should test your blood glucose and how many times a day it should be done. Keep records of your blood glucose levels and note if they are above or below your recommended range over a period of time. Your age, overall health, the length of time you have had diabetes, and any health complications that have resulted from diabetes will all make your acceptable blood glucose range differ from other people with the same condition.
Your doctor will explain what various blood glucose levels mean for you. Blood glucose levels are expressed in terms of milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The average range of blood glucose levels is 80 to 130 mg/dL before meals and less than 180 mg/dL after a meal. In addition to the daily measurements you take at home, your doctor will measure your A1C levels twice a year. AIC levels indicate your average blood glucose levels over the past few months. A1C levels are expressed as a percentage.
Each time you visit your doctor, bring your testing results with you. Be honest with your doctor about how consistently you take your medications as directed. Occasionally, bring your home blood glucose monitor with you to your doctor’s office and test yourself with it at the same time the doctor tests you, and compare the two results. If the results from your monitor are off from the laboratory results by more than 15 percent, you may need a new monitor.
If you use an insulin pump, your doctor may recommend continuous blood glucose monitoring. A continuous blood glucose monitor consists of a sticky patch with a tiny needle worn on the skin and a small electronic recording device. The monitor transmits blood glucose level readings to the recording device, which must be kept near you. The device will test your glucose levels and display the results once every few minutes. You will need to remove and replace the patch on a different part of your body each week. Continuous blood glucose monitors are more expensive and less accurate than traditional testing, and you will still need to do traditional blood glucose tests periodically
If your type 2 diabetes is poorly controlled, your doctor may recommend that you test your urine for ketones. Ketones are acid molecules released when your body has very high blood glucose levels and is forced to break down fats for energy. Ketone testing kits, which involve dipping a testing strip into a cup of urine, are available at pharmacies. If test results show a high level of ketones, this means you can go into ketoacidosis, and you should call a doctor or go to the emergency room right away.
Cost and your health insurance program may limit what type of blood glucose testing monitor you can choose.
It may be difficult to remember to test your blood sugar at the correct times. Consider leaving yourself notes or setting alarms on clocks or phones to help you remember. It will be necessary sometimes to carry your blood glucose testing materials with you when you are out of the house.
Some people find the skin pricks associated with blood glucose testing to be uncomfortable. If the skin area where you test is sore, wait until it heals before you prick it again. If you are testing at your fingertip, choose a site on the side of your finger near the nail bed rather than the pad of the fingertip, which hurts more. Wash the area you intend to test with soap and water each time. Use a new lancet each time; dull lancets hurt more. If the stick does not produce enough blood, let your hand hang down below your waist for a minute to allow blood to gather rather than squeezing your finger.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Blood Sugar Testing: When, Why, and How — Mayo Clinic
The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Glucose — American Diabetes Association
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