Testing Blood Sugar
If you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar is the primary way to gain control of and manage your disease. In fact, every component of your diabetes health and treatment plan is in place to either help you lower or stabilize your blood glucose level. Of course, the only way to measure how well you’re doing is by regularly testing your blood sugar, which is why knowing how and when to test is a critical part of your diabetes care.
Why test blood sugar
The Mayo Clinic cites a number five key reasons for testing blood sugar. They are:
- Testing blood glucose helps measure the effects of insulin and other medications on blood sugar levels.
- Informs you when blood sugar is high or low.
- Helps track progress toward meeting your overall treatment goals.
- Informs you how diet and exercise impact blood sugar.
- Helps you understand how factors such as stress, sleep, and illness affect blood sugar levels.
How to test blood sugar
Most people, particularly those with Type II diabetes, test their blood sugar using a glucose meter and diabetic test strips from brands like Accu-Chek and OneTouch. The process is relatively simple and painless. The tip of the finger is pricked using a sanitary and ultra-sharp device called a lancet in order to draw a small drop of blood. This drop is then placed on the tip of the test strip, and the strip is inserted into the glucose meter which measures blood sugar using electrical current.
Some individuals, most often those with Type I diabetes, use a Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system, such as the FreeStyle Libre or Dexcom G6, to measure their blood sugar. CGM sensors are inserted under the skin and worn continuously for a few weeks at a time and allow either a compatible reading device or smartphone to measure blood sugar levels as often as every minute. CGM devices provide blood sugar data throughout the day instantly without the need for finger pricks, which can certainly be advantageous. However, some people don’t like the idea of wearing a sensor all the time and prefer testing with a glucose meter. Which method is right for you depends on your individual diabetes condition and lifestyle requirements? Your diabetes physician and care team will help you determine the blood sugar testing device that works best for you.
When to test blood sugar
Because one of the main reasons to test blood sugar is to see how medicine, diet, and lifestyle impact it, the specific times you test are critical. Your diabetes physician and care team well determine your individual testing schedule, however, there are some general testing rules that you will likely follow. According to the American Diabetes Associations, it’s also important to log your testing data. Whether stored on a glucose meter or CGM device, or written down in a good-old-fashioned logbook, examining your data over time will help you and your doctors adapt and modify your treatment plan for optimum results. Here are some of the most useful and important times to test your blood sugar.
When You Wake Up
Many people with diabetes experience what’s commonly called the Dawn Phenomenon, an elevation in blood sugar that occurs during sleep. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in the morning, it could be after good nap. That’s why it’s always a good idea to test your blood sugar when you wake up. It’ll help you and your doctors understand how and if your blood sugar is impacted by sleep and determine whether or not your medication should be adjusted.
Chances are that your doctor will recommend testing your blood sugar before going to sleep at night. This is to avoid a drop in blood sugar over the hours you’re asleep. If you test your blood sugar and it’s slightly low before going to bed, you might want to eat a small snack to raise your blood sugar just enough to avoid the chances of an uncomfortable dip during the night.
Testing before you eat gives you what’s called a fasting glucose level, which can help provide a better idea of what you should eat for that specific meal and help determine what treatment needs you might require post meal, including the proper dosage for an insulin injection if necessary.
Two Hours After Eating
Testing your blood glucose a few hours after eating will help identify the impacts the specific foods you eat have on blood sugar levels. Additionally, it will quickly tell you if any diabetes medication you are taking is working sufficiently or not.
Before And After Physical Activity
It’s important to test your blood sugar before undertaking any physical activity to make sure you’re not too elevated or too low to safely exercise. If you’re blood sugar measures slightly low, a healthy snack or a few glucose tabs might do the trick and bring you back to safe levels, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). If your blood sugar is high (over 300mg/dL), it’s important to take a urine test for ketones. If you do have ketones do not exercise. If you don’t, exercise with caution.
Testing after physical activity is important because it helps determine how activity impacts your blood sugar level. In most cases, exercise will lower it. However, extremely vigorous workouts can prompt the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream, which can actually cause a spike in blood sugar. Testing before and after activity will help you exercise safely and better understand your diabetes.
Following Any Changes in Diabetes Medication
Rest assured; your diabetes physician will remind you about this one. Any time your doctor recommends a change in medication or alters the dosage of your insulin or any current medication, it’s important to test your blood sugar more often than usual for a period of time. The only way to accurately determine how changes in diabetes medication will impact your blood sugar is to measure more regularly, and you can be sure your doctor will be the first one to remind you of this.
When Taking Other Medications
If you take medication for any health concern, whether over the counter or prescription, it’s important to test your blood sugar more often. For example, steroids tend to increase blood sugar levels, while medications like beta blockers can contribute to lower blood sugar. Never take any new medication without first consulting your physician. If you get the okay, be sure to follow up by testing your blood sugar in order to determine the impact of the medicine on your diabetes treatment plan.
When You Are Sick
We all occasionally find ourselves under the weather. When you get sick, blood sugar levels can run a little high. Just as a precaution, it’s a good idea to test your blood sugar little more frequently than usual.
Before Long Drives or Operating Heavy Machinery
The symptoms of low blood sugar, which are not uncommon to those with diabetes, include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and other conditions not at all conducive to safe driving or operating heavy equipment. If you’re planning to do so, test your blood sugar before you get underway to make sure you’re not susceptible to the symptoms of low blood sugar. It’s also good idea to carry some healthy snacks or glucose tabs with you, just in case you sense your blood sugar dropping during the drive or activity.
If You Suspect Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia
The symptoms of hypoglycemia include fatigue, dizziness, loss of coordination, and difficulty thinking clearly. The symptoms of hyperglycemia include increased thirst, frequent urination, shortness of breath and a fruity breath odor. If you experience any of these symptoms test your blood sugar right away. If your level measures far higher or lower than your target, contact your physician right away.
We hope you found this post helpful in understanding the importance of regular blood sugar testing. At Diabeticteststrips, we’re proud to keep you informed with the latest news and tips on living with diabetes. We’re also committed to helping you stick to your doctor-prescribed testing and treatment schedule by saving you up to 65% on all your diabetic supply needs. Shop our huge online selection of glucose meters, test strips and lancets, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, and infusion sets by leading manufacturers, such as Accu-Chek, One Touch, FreeStyle, Dexcom, Easy Comfort, and True Metrix. Enjoy free delivery to your home or office with every order. See what our satisfied customers have to say and get started now at Diabeticteststrips.org.
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