person's body is operating normally, it automatically checks the level of
glucose in blood. If the level is too high or too low, the body will adjust the
sugar level to return it to normal. This system operates in much the same way
that cruise control adjusts the speed of a car. With diabetes, the body doesn't
do the job of controlling blood glucose automatically. To make up for this,
someone with diabetes has to check blood sugar regularly and adjust treatment
A doctor can measure blood glucose during an office visit. However, levels
change from hour to hour and someone who visits the doctor only every few weeks
won't know what his or her blood glucose is daily. Do-it-yourself tests enable
people with diabetes to check their blood sugar daily.
with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to keep up with
everything you need to do for proper diabetes care.
"Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says
Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and
education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life
in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite
The easiest test someone can do at home is a urine test. When the level of
glucose in blood rises above normal, the kidneys eliminate the excess glucose
in urine. Glucose in urine, therefore, reflects an excess of glucose in
Urine testing is easy. Tablets or paper strips are dipped in urine. The
color change that occurs indicates whether blood glucose is too high. However,
urine testing is not completely accurate because the reading reflects the level
of blood glucose a few hours earlier. In addition, not everyone's kidneys are
the same. Even when the amount of glucose in two people's urine is the same,
their sugar levels may be different. Certain drugs and vitamin C also can
affect the accuracy of urine tests.
It's more accurate to measure blood glucose directly. Kits are available
that allow people with diabetes to test their blood glucose at home. The test
involves pricking a finger to draw a drop of blood. A spring-operated
"lancet" does this automatically. The drop of blood is placed on a
strip of specially coated plastic or into a small machine that "reads"
how much glucose is in the blood. A doctor may suggest that someone test his or
her blood glucose several times a day. Self-blood glucose monitoring can show
how the body responds to meals, exercise, stress, and diabetes treatment.
Another test that measures the effectiveness of treatment is a
"glycosylated hemoglobin" test. It measures the glucose that has become
attached to hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that gives blood its
red color. Over time, hemoglobin absorbs glucose, according to its
concentration in blood. Once glucose is absorbed by hemoglobin it remains there
until the blood cells die and new ones replace them. With the "glycosylated
hemoglobin" test, a doctor can tell whether blood glucose has been very
high over the last few months.
Points to Remember
Testing blood glucose levels regularly can show whether treatment is
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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