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.
Don White, 68, a retired science teacher from upstate New York, first suspected he had type 2 diabetes when he was 45 years old and his school held a health fair for students and teachers. A simple prick of his finger to test for high blood sugar -- a sign of diabetes -- revealed some unexpected news.
"My numbers were way above normal," says White. "In a matter of days, and a couple of doctor's appointments later, I found out I had type 2 diabetes."
White and his family were surprised by the diagnosis...
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.