Owing to the rapid increase in the rate of incidence of diabetes, it becomes excruciatingly important to educate yourself with the different ways of checking blood glucose levels. Constantly monitoring your blood sugar levels using an accurate meter and keeping a record of it can help you and your doctor analyze the benefits of the treatment that you are following.
Benefits of Checking Blood Glucose Levels
If you are suffering from diabetes, checking your blood glucose levels on a regular basis and taking measures accordingly, to reach the desired or target range of glucose levels can serve as the best treatment for better managing the symptoms and long-term health risks associated with diabetes.
Moreover, a routine check-up of blood glucose levels can also help you understand the efficacy of the anti-diabetic medications prescribed by your doctor or any other natural alternative treatments like home remedies, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, etc., that you have adopted as a part of your treatment regimen, in order to check for their impact on lowering your blood sugar levels.
When and Who Should Check Blood Glucose Levels?
As per the recommendations of American Diabetes Association (ADA), a regular check-up of glucose is mandatory as a part of any self-care program. This is especially true in the case of Type 1 diabetic patients, who are advised to test blood sugar levels, three or more times daily by ADA, to adjust the dosage of insulin being administrated. Also, pregnant women often experience drastic fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can be detrimental for the health of both, the mother and the baby.
Due to genetic factors or daily habits, some people may find it very hard to control blood sugar levels. While very high blood sugar levels can lead to the accumulation of ketone bodies in the urine, anti-diabetic medications and skipping meals can drastically lower blood sugar levels, way below the desired range. Therefore, considering the innumerable advantages of monitoring sugar levels in the blood, it becomes important for people with the above mentioned conditions to regularly test their blood glucose levels.
How to Do a Routine Blood Sugar Test?
Based on your overall fitness levels, age, eating habits and the level of physical activity, your doctor may suggest you to check your blood sugar levels before or after meals, before you begin exercising to prevent hypoglycemia during exercise, after a rigorous exercise program, just before bed or in the middle of the night.
Self-testing can be an important part of your diabetes care plan. While different meters have their own specific instructions for usage mentioned on their user manuals, they are all composed of a portable electronic gadget, which measures glucose levels using a small drop of blood that can be removed using a small lancing device.
Steps for Checking Blood Glucose Levels
Begin with washing your hands with an antiseptic hand wash and warm water to avoid any skin infections. Pat you hands dry and gather all your tools provided by the diabetic kit along with a cotton ball.
Switch on the meter and insert a test strip into the slot provided on the monitor. Some monitors may require coding so follow the instructions on the manual and calibrate it accordingly.
Use the depth dial to adjust the depth on the lancing device and gently pierce the lancing tip into your fingertip or any alternate site like forearms or thighs that most glucose monitors provide a provision for. Make sure that you check with your doctor if testing from other sites on the body is appropriate enough in your case.
Now place your fingertip over the test strip and transfer the blood drop to allow it to be absorbed by the capillary action of the test strip. If the blood is not sufficient enough to get transferred, gently squeeze your fingertip with your thumb to allow the drop to fall on the strip. Wipe your finger and press it with a cotton ball to stop further bleeding.
Wait for a few seconds and view the results on the screen. It displays the concentration of glucose levels in the bloodstream in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Even though, the target range may differ with age, severity of diabetes, pregnancy status and your health condition, a range between 90 and 130 mg/dL before meals or pre-prandial glucose levels and a value below 180 mg/dL for postprandial glucose levels or 2 hours after meals is considered normal and healthy.
After getting the results, it is important to record your results in a log book by noting down the time, date, medications, dosage of insulin being administered and the diet and exercise that you are currently following. Maintaining a log book or a journal can help you keep a track of the fluctuations that you experience in your blood sugar levels as a response to the various treatments being followed.
This will help you understand the type of treatment that is most suitable for controlling your blood sugar levels. Also, show this record to the members of your diabetic health care tem, the next time you pay them a visit, to help them device a suitable plan for managing the symptoms of your condition.
Carefully discard the used lancet and the syringes that have been used to inject insulin in separate containers, used bottles or safe disposal boxes that are available at pharmaceutical stores. Since, used needles and lancets are considered hazardous wastes, inform your waste management company about the correct handling and disposal. Safely, place all the equipments of your glucose testing kit back into its case.
Maintaining a Glucose Meter
It is important to change the batteries of your glucose meter as per the instructions given in the manual and clean the device regularly. Also, one should not use expired test strips or test strips designed for other meters. If you come across any difficulties, refer the manual for troubleshooting tips or seek advice from your doctor about any queries that you may have.
In order to understand the benefits of any changes that you have made in your treatment regimen, it is important to test your blood sugar levels in a structured manner, most often before and after a new activity that you have incorporated in your lifestyle. Most importantly, frequent check-ups of blood glucose levels will allow you to adapt lifestyle modifications like the incorporation of low GI foods and regular physical activity for beating the symptoms associated with diabetes.