If you have diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you test your blood sugar, or glucose, levels regularly. Knowing your blood sugar levels may allow you to alter your diabetes management strategy if your levels aren't near your target blood sugar.
Also, regular testing of your blood sugar can help reduce your risk of having long-term complications from diabetes. Based on studies of people with type 1 diabetes, maintaining near normal blood sugar and HbA1c levels significantly reduces the risks of complications from diabetes. But this type of tight control is not for everyone. Your doctor can tell you which diabetes treatment goals are right for you.
Traditional Home Blood Sugar Monitoring. The traditional method of testing your blood sugar involves pricking your finger with a lancet (a small, sharp needle), putting a drop of blood on a test strip and then placing the strip into a meter that displays your blood sugar level. Meters vary in features, readability (with larger displays or spoken instructions for the visually impaired), portability, speed, size, and cost. Current devices provide results in less than 15 seconds and can store this information for future use. Some of these meters can also calculate an average blood sugar level over a period of time. Some meters also feature software kits that retrieve information from the meter and display graphs and charts of your past test results. Blood sugar meters and strips are available at your local pharmacy.
Meters That Test Alternative Sites. Newer meters may allow you to test sites other than your fingertip; these alternative testing sites may include upper arm, forearm, base of the thumb, and thigh. However, testing at alternative sites may give you results that are different from the blood sugar levels obtained from the fingertip. Blood sugar levels in the fingertips show changes more quickly than those in alternative testing sites. This is especially true when your blood sugar is rapidly changing, like after a meal or after exercise. It is also important to know that if you are checking your sugar while you are experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should use your fingertip if possible, because these readings will be more accurate.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. Also known as interstitial glucose measuring devices. Some of these devices are combined with insulin pumps. They are similar to fingerstick glucose results and can be used to see patterns and trends.
Newer technologies are now being studied using spectroscopy and electromagnetic waves as ways to test blood sugar levels without piercing the skin.
When Should I Test My Blood Sugar?
If you have diabetes, whether you are on insulin, oral medication, or lifestyle modifications, you may still benefit from checking your blood sugar levels at home. Ask your doctor if checking your levels at home is right for you.
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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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