Diabetes is a lifelong condition. Because it is, you can have major health problems if you don't keep blood glucose under control. That's why fully understanding how to buy and properly use diabetes testing supplies as well as diabetes medications is so important.
Learning to regularly test your blood glucose level with a glucose monitor and to take diabetes medications when you are supposed to will make living with the condition much easier. With a little practice, you can self-manage diabetes just as you manage other aspects of your life. When you do, your quality of life and ability to be active and do the things you want to do will greatly improve.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our January-February 2011 issue, we asked WebMD's Diabetes Expert, Michael Dansinger, MD, whether stevia, a new natural sweetener, is a good sugar substitute for people with diabetes.
Home blood sugar (glucose) testing is an essential part of controlling your blood sugar and self-managing diabetes. Your diabetes educator can guide you in terms of how often to check your blood glucose and how to do it properly. Make sure the diabetes educator watches you use the glucose meter several times. That way, you can be sure you're doing it correctly. At a minimum, you'll be checking your blood sugar every morning before you eat. It's also advisable to check it before lunch and dinner and at bedtime. Your doctor may also ask that you test your blood one hour after eating.
Blood glucose levels checked with blood taken from the fingertips will show important changes faster than glucose levels checked with blood taken from other sites on the body. The usual way to check blood sugar levels is by:
pricking the fingertip with a lancing tool -- a small, sharp needle
putting the blood drop on a test strip
placing the test strip into a glucose meter
reading the blood glucose level displayed on the meter
If you take insulin, you might change the dose, depending on the reading.
Checking blood glucose frequently allows you to avoid the dangerous consequences of extremely high spikes or dangerously low drops in blood sugar. Managing these spikes and drops quickly -- when treatment is most effective -- can save your life.
What diabetes supplies do I need?
Depending on the type of diabetes you have -- type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes -- you'll need to purchase:
a glucose meter
lancets to pierce your finger for a blood sample
urine test strips to measure ketone levels (for type 1 diabetes)
emergency alert bracelet
There may be other supplies you'll want to purchase, such as control solutions or specialty items like carrying cases.
What do I need to know about glucose meters?
Portable glucose meters are small devices operated by batteries. There are many blood glucose-monitoring systems available. Each brand and type has advantages and disadvantages. In addition, glucose meters range substantially in price, depending on the particular features you want. Some of the features to consider are convenience, quick response, and accuracy.
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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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