Diabetes Health: How and When to Test Your Blood Sugar
Blood Sugar Testing: A Key Part of an Effective Diabetes Treatment Plan
Learn how to do it and why it’s so important.
If you have diabetes, particularly if your treatment program requires you to take insulin injections or infusions, testing your blood sugar regularly is an important part of managing your condition and preventing diabetes-related complications, including cardiovascular disease, neuropathy (nerve damage), kidney disease and other critical health concerns.
Self-administered blood sugar tests are the easiest and most effective way to make sure your blood glucose level remains within your target range. This is important because if your blood sugar gets too low it can cause you to lose the ability to think clearly, feel exhausted or dizzy, and even lead to shaking and trembling. If your blood glucose gets too high, it can lead to those serious and even life-threatening diabetes complications.
How to test your blood sugar.
The good news for diabetics and those who might be suffering from prediabetes is that testing has never been easier or more accurate. You can test your blood sugar numerous times each day using a standard diabetes glucose meter and the accompanying diabetic test strips.
For those who have been recently diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, many leading diabetic supply manufacturers, such as True Metrix, FreeStyle and One Touch, have created affordable diabetic starter kits that include glucose meters, test strips, alcohol swabs, lancets, essentially everything you need to effectively test your blood glucose level in one convenient package.
So, exactly how does it work?
Testing your blood sugar using a glucose meter is a relatively painless process that can deliver accurate measurements in about 15 seconds. Yeah, it’s fast. Here’s how it works using doctor-recommended glucose meters and test strips, such as those provided by Contour Next, FreeStyle, OneTouch and TRUEmetrix.
Standard Blood Glucose Testing Procedure
- Wash your hands thoroughly and dry them completely.
- Insert the appropriate test strip into your glucose meter.
- Cleanse the tip of your finger with an alcohol swab
- Using a “lancet” (a small, spring-loaded needle provided with your test kit or sold separately) prick the side of your fingertip. Avoid pricking the center of the fingertip as this can cause discomfort to the most used part of the finger.
- A drop of blood will appear on your fingertip. Hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood.
- Your glucose meter will display blood sugar results in a matter of seconds.
NOTE: there are some newer meters that allow you test from other sites besides the fingertip, including the upper arm, forearm, base of the thumb, and the thigh. However, blood drawn from the fingertip shows blood sugar changes more quickly than that taken from other sites. Many believe the fingertip is still the most reliable testing source, particularly for those who are physically active or experience frequent or rapid changes in blood sugar levels.
Where do I find glucose meters and test strips?
More and more people with diabetes are shopping for their glucose testing and insulin delivery supplies at reputable online diabetic supply companies. At Diabeticteststrips.org, we’ve built a reputation for providing a complete selection of doctor-recommended devices and supplies at prices much lower than you’re likely to find at your local pharmacy or drugstore.
This is particularly true when it comes to diabetic test strips. Most people with Type 2 diabetes test their blood sugar anywhere between one and seven times a day. That’s a lot of test strips each month and the cost can really add up rapidly.
At Diabeticteststrips.org, we provide our customers with test strips from all the leading diabetes supply manufacturers – in mint condition with long expiration dates – and we usually do it for 50% less than other online diabetic supply companies and about 65% less than what pharmacies and drugstores charge.
When should I test my blood sugar?
Everybody is unique and those of us living with diabetes are no different. There’s no set rule for blood sugar testing. In fact, it just might be the most personal part of your diabetes care plan. Your doctor and care team will provide you with a specific blood glucose testing schedule in accordance with your individual diabetes condition and your daily insulin requirements. However, there are some general assumptions that can be made.
People with Type 1 diabetes may be required to test their blood sugar many times each day including:
– Before meals and snacks
– Before and after exercise
– At bedtime
– Occasionally during the night
– More often if feeling ill
– More often if there’s a change in daily routine
– More often if a new medication is prescribed
People with Type 2 diabetes who are taking multiple insulin injections are often required to test their blood sugar:
– Before all three daily meals
– At bedtime
– Before exercise
– Any time the symptoms of low blood sugar (fatigue, dizziness) arise.
Additional factors determining when and how often your doctor will recommend testing your blood sugar include:
– New diabetes diagnosis: if you’ve been recently diagnosed, you’ll need to test more often to gain the blood sugar data required to formulate a long-term diabetes plan.
– Insulin dosage: The more you’re required to take, the more often you’ll probably need to test.
– Activity level: Physical activity is incredibly important when living with diabetes, however, it can require additional testing as exercise will lower blood sugar.
– Safety concerns: If you operate heavy machinery or have another job that can be dangerous should blood sugar levels drop, you may need to test more often.
What is my target blood sugar level?
Once again, we’re all different and so are our target blood glucose levels. Your doctor will determine that with you. However, as a rule, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests the following blood sugar targets for non-pregnant adults with diabetes.
Before A Meal: 80-130 mg/dL
1-2 Hours After Beginning A Meal: Less than 180 mg/dL
Logging your blood sugar test results.
Recording your test results is imperative to tracking your progress and continually adapting your diabetes care plan and insulin dosage. The good news is most of today’s top glucose meters, like the FreeStyle Freedom Lite, True Metrix Air, Accu-Chek Aviva Plus, and the One Touch Ultra 2 can store up to 1000 blood glucose readings. Many can also transfer data directly to your smartphone or mobile device, so you and your doctor always have an accurate picture of your blood sugar patterns and can better determine your body’s reaction to insulin injections, dietary changes, exercise and other variables.
Even so, many people with diabetes like to go old school and manually log their blood glucose test results. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that and it provides a great backup to your glucose meter. There are a wide variety of glucose logbooks to choose from and they’ll only set you back a few bucks.
We hope you found this post helpful and, as always, we remind you to consult with your diabetes physician and care team about all aspects of your individual diabetes treatment plan, including which blood sugar testing method and frequency works best for you. Once that’s been determined, we invite you to save on all your diabetic supply needs at diabeticteststrips.org.