The main piece of arsenal in the management of diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, is the testing of the amount of sugar in your blood. While every other aspect of management is also important, they all hinge on the success of this one area. That’s why it is important to know when to check your levels and why you should do so.
Checking your blood sugar levels isn’t that difficult, but let’s face it: it can be annoying to have to keep up with. If you feel fine then there should be no reason to have to go to all of the trouble of checking it anyway, right? After all, who better to know if there was a problem than the diabetic?
Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. If we could go strictly off of feelings then there would be very little need for glucose meters. The fact of the matter is they provide an invaluable service to the diabetic. Without them, proper blood sugar management would be nothing more than mere guesswork.
Before you understand when and why to check your levels, you first have to know what it is that you are looking for.
Do you know what your optimal range is? Your doctor should have discussed it with you at some point.
You will need to know three key numbers:
*your fasting blood sugar… suggestion could be 70 to 100 mg/dL (or less than 5.5 mmol/L),
*2 hours after the start of a meal… suggestion could be 70 to 145 mg/dL (or less than 7.9 mmolL), and
*randon or casual level… suggestion could be 70 to 125 mg/dL (or less than 7 mmol/L)
Once you are armed with this data, then you can move on to the “when” part of the discussion.
Besides the three times just mentioned, you will also want to have your glucose meter on hand at all times. This is so you will be ready if your levels start to go out of whack in between these times. Sometimes you will know when this is and sometimes you won’t. Again, you can never fully rely on how you feel as this is not a good indication that something may be wrong. If you are on insulin, your doctor may recommend that you check it additionally.
Now for the “how” portion of checking. There are many ways this can be done with a lot riding on which type of glucose meter you are using. Some will use a sample from your finger while others can utilize blood from the thigh, forearm, etc. You will find the location that is right for you. Diabetics will often change locations to give their testing area a chance to heal properly.
Regardless of where you take a sample, it will need to be a clean site in order to maximize the accuracy of the result. First, wash your hands thoroughly before you begin. Next, after drying them off, make sure your meter and the test strip you will be using is also free of debris and dirt. Dirt on any of these areas can skew the results.
If you are using your fingertips to extract blood, you will want to rotate to different fingers periodically as they will become sore over time. Plus, after multiple testings there is going to be a formation of scar tissue, making the testing sites tough and harder to penetrate.
So, why do you have to test? There are actually several reasons why it is imperative to check levels. You need to know if there is a problem with your diabetes, as unbalanced blood sugar levels can lead to a plethora of other medical conditions. It doesn’t take long for low or high levels to trigger a glycemic episode that can render you partially or even completely incapacitated.
You also need to know how your diet is affecting your health… either in a good way, or a bad one. This signals whether or not you need to make some changes to your eating plan.