Diabetes: Checking Your Blood Sugar
What is an Actionset?
Because you have diabetes, you need to know when your blood sugar level is outside the target range for your body. Fortunately, you can see what your blood sugar level is anywhere and anytime by using a home blood sugar meter (blood glucose meter). Using the meter, you can find out what your blood sugar level is within a minute or two.
Knowing your blood sugar level helps you treat low or high blood sugar before it becomes an emergency. It also helps you know how exercise and food affect your blood sugar and how much short-acting insulin (if you take insulin) to take. Most importantly, it helps you feel more in control as you manage life with diabetes.
Three keys to success in monitoring your blood sugar anywhere are:
Your doctor will most likely take a sample of blood from a vein to test your blood sugar level in his or her office or lab every 3 to 6 months. The blood sample is used for two tests: 1) to check your blood sugar level at the time of the test (blood glucose test), and 2) to measure how well your blood sugar has stayed within your target range over the past 2 to 3 months (hemoglobin A1c test or a similar test called glycohemoglobin). You may not get the results from these tests for a few hours or even a few days.
Because you have diabetes, you need to know what your blood sugar level is every day. Many years ago, the only way people with diabetes could check on the control of their diabetes was by testing their urine for sugar. Urine testing is not an accurate way to test your blood sugar level and is not recommended.
You can check your blood sugar level anytime and anywhere by using a home blood sugar meter. This is often referred to as home blood sugar monitoring or self-testing. Your doctor may want you to check your blood sugar level several times a day, especially if you take insulin.
To test your blood sugar level using a blood sugar meter, prick the side of your fingertip with a small needle (lancet) to collect a drop of blood. Some blood sugar sampling devices allow you to prick other sites on your body, such as your forearm. Place the drop of blood on a special test strip inserted into your meter. (For some meters, the blood is put on the test strip before it is put in the meter.) Within a minute or less, the meter shows the results of your test.
Test Your Knowledge
Home blood sugar monitoring involves:
Testing the amount of sugar in a sample of blood drawn from a blood vessel (vein).
Testing the amount of sugar in a drop of blood from your finger or another site on your body, such as your forearm.
Testing the amount of sugar in a urine sample.
Monitoring your blood sugar level takes the guesswork out of your daily diabetes care. Testing your blood sugar at home helps you know:
Test Your Knowledge
Home blood sugar monitoring helps you know how exercise has affected your blood sugar.
Monitoring your blood sugar level at home takes the guesswork out of your daily diabetes care. You will know what your blood sugar level is at the time of testing. Here is a simple way to get started.
Before you start testing your blood sugar:
Do the test
Some people with diabetes test their blood sugar rarely or not at all. Other people—such as pregnant women—test it several times a day. The more often you test your blood sugar, the more you will know about how well your treatment is keeping your blood sugar levels within a target range.
Follow these steps when testing your blood sugar:
Record the results
Recording your blood sugar results is very important. You and your doctor will use your record to see how often your blood sugar levels are in your target range. This information lets you and your doctor know how your medicine, food, and activity are affecting your blood sugar. Be sure to take your record with you on each visit to your doctor or diabetes educator.
To record your results, you can:
Preventing sore fingers
The more often you test your blood sugar, the more likely you are to have sore fingertips. These suggestions can help prevent sore fingers:
Test Your Knowledge
To test your blood sugar, put a drop of blood on the special test strip used with your home blood sugar meter.
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to start monitoring your blood sugar levels at home.
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions about this information, take it to your next doctor visit. You may want to write down any questions you have.
If you haven't talked with your doctor about when and how often to test your blood sugar, do so during your next visit. Make sure to record the times you need to check your blood sugar each day and when you are stressed or ill.
Many blood sugar meter manufacturers offer computer software programs that compile and analyze blood sugar test results on your home computer. You can print out the results and take them to your next appointment. Some programs will send the information to the doctor electronically. There is also a handheld computer that contains a blood testing device along with tracking programs for diet, blood sugar levels, and medicines.
If you would like more information on blood sugar monitoring, the following resources are available:
More information about diabetes can be found in these topics:
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