When you have diabetes, managing and controlling it via blood sugar testing is essential. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels plays a vital role in diabetes management. That is because tracking your blood sugar levels will help you avoid any emergency, and it will enable you to make necessary changes depending on your sugar levels. In addition, it is also a useful measure to assess whether your treatment is on track.
Earlier it was difficult to check your blood sugar levels frequently as it involved going to the labs, giving blood samples and then waiting for the report. However, with technological advancements, the process has become convenient, and you can check your sugar levels at home. However, it is also crucial to test it right, as wrong assessments can lead to inappropriate treatment.
Since blood sugar meters and glucometers have made mapping your blood sugar levels easy, you can get your blood sugar tested and reported in less than a minute. However, knowing the frequency of tests and the right ways to do them is crucial. So, here is a guide to checking your blood sugar levels at home right.
The Importance of Checking Blood Sugar Levels
Assessment is the most significant part of any treatment strategy. It is no different with diabetes. Since diabetes is a lifestyle disease, it requires regular monitoring. Your healthcare professional recommends some medications, and you also put in the effort to make dietary and lifestyle modifications to regulate your blood sugar levels. However, to assess whether the medications and modifications are helping, it is essential to test your blood sugar levels frequently.
When you know the results, you adjust your strategies for keeping diabetes in control. In addition, testing is a significant factor that we need to consider for projecting and preventing the risk of severe health issues. Regular testing can help you avoid health problems that stem from heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, blindness, kidney failure or skin problems.
Research has also shown that for people who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is difficult for such people to stick to their target blood sugar & HbA1c levels which reduces the complications.
Checking your blood sugar level helps in the management of diabetes by showcasing:
- If your diabetes treatment plan is working.
- How will any exercise/food impact your blood sugar levels?
- How shall stress & illness affect your Blood Pressure?
- Is your diabetes medication working & in check?
Everything You Should Know About Testing Your Blood Sugar Levels at Home
Every individual’s body is different. Hence, we react differently in various situations. It is the same with diabetes. We respond differently to diabetes treatment. Therefore, it is essential to understand that testing your blood sugar at home requires a unique approach.
Some factors to consider when testing diabetes at home are:
- Frequency of Test
- The Appropriate Time to Test
- The Testing Device
- Type of Diabetes
- Treatment Strategy
Frequency of Test
Although many experts recommend testing your blood sugar levels thrice a week, it is best to consult your doctor to understand the exact frequency. The doctor will advise you depending on their treatment strategy and the medications. In addition, they will also consider changing the frequency once in a while to see short-term results. For example, if you are using an insulin pump or are required to inject insulin more than once a day, experts advise you to keep a tab on your blood sugar at least three times daily.
Also, it depends on what type of diabetes you are affected by. Here are the types of Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
In some cases, the doctors advise patients to check their sugar levels between 4 and 10 times per day. It depends on their treatment strategy and the severity of the condition. For example, a doctor can ask you to take a test between meals and snacks or right before and after exercise. In addition, they may also ask you to check it right before bed or anytime during the night. It also requires you to check if you have any symptoms of illness and hence needs to make changes to your daily routine or perhaps begin a new medication.
Type 2 Diabetes
When you have type-2 diabetes, you need to consider three factors- insulin, medication and lifestyle changes.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes where the blood sugar levels rise above normal during pregnancy. It develops in women who do not have diabetes. It can cause health issues for the mother and the baby. If you have gestational diabetes, it is best to monitor your blood sugar after waking up and after meals. Since dietary regulations and exercise play a vital role in regulating blood sugar with gestational diabetes, regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels is essential.
Depending on your insulin, your doctor may probably recommend you to take insulin thrice a day. In that case, they would advise you to test your sugar levels during bedtime or before your meals. On the other hand, long-acting insulin would require you to test blood sugar levels twice every day- before breakfast and dinner. Furthermore, if you are on drugs to treat your diabetes, your doctor would decide on sugar testing depending on the medicine and its dosage. However, those who follow a strict exercise and diet routine do not require testing blood sugar daily.
Informing the Doctor
It is one of the most vital steps that you need to remember. First, you should consult your doctor about testing blood sugar at home and the test’s frequency and timing. Then, you should share the readings of your test with your doctor. In addition, you should also consult with the doctor to understand immediate actions that you should take if the sugar levels go too high or too low.
Testing Blood Sugar: The Best Ways
You may be testing your blood sugar perhaps once a day or multiple times. Still, experts believe that a particular routine will help avoid infection while returning to normal results and monitoring your blood sugar better. Below is a step-by-step routine that you should follow.
- Wash hands with soap and water and dry them with a clean towel. If you intend on using a sanitiser, you have to let the area dry completely before the testing process. However, use a sanitiser after washing your hands.
- Insert a clean needle, prepare a lancet device for holding the needle, and then use it to prick the end of your finger.
- You can extract one test strip from the bottle or box of strips. But be mindful of closing the bottle & hence altogether avoiding contaminating the rest of the strips with moisture or dirt.
- When it comes to modern glucometers, you have to insert the strip into the metre before collecting the blood to add the blood sample to the strip when it is in the metre. However, some old glucometers required the presence of blood on the strips first, and then they would need to put the strip on the glucometer.
- Stick the side of your fingertip to the lancet. Few blood sugar machines let testing happen from different body sides, like your arm. You should read your device’s manual thoroughly to ensure that you draw blood from the correct place.
- At first, you can proceed by wiping off the first drop of blood and then collecting a drop on the test strip. You can get an adequate amount in terms of reading the results. Be careful of allowing only the blood and not your skin from touching. Any residue from medication or food might affect the test’s results.
- The area where you used the lancet will now be bleeding, and you can stop it by holding a clean cotton ball or gauze pad. You should surely apply pressure until all the bleeding has stopped.
Tips for Successful Blood Sugar Monitoring
Stock Your Testing Supplies
You should keep your supplies with you all the time, including lancets, alcohol swabs, and testing strips. Anything can come in handy for monitoring your blood sugar levels.
Keep a Track of Your Testing Strips
The strips shouldn’t have expired because out-of-date strips do not guarantee any accurate results. If you do not want your blood glucose numbers to be affected, discard old strips. It will avoid inaccuracy in results.
Keep Your Testing Strips Carefully
Make sure to keep the strips away from moisture and sunlight. Keeping it at room temperature will be the best decision – but it should not freeze.
Establish a Routine
Establish a particular routine for deciding how and when to get your blood sugar levels. Let your doctor plan so that they can keep a check as to when you are fasting, when you are having certain meals, or they can advise you to check it before bedtime. You have to develop a routine that suits you as each person functions differently. Then, when you have set up a schedule, you start checking your blood glucose properly, and it gets embedded into your day. You are also less likely to forget it when many metres come with alarms to help you remember to test your blood glucose levels.
Take Your Glucometre to Your Doctor
It is not always necessary that your metre will be correct. Many metres come along with a control solution for allowing you to test how accurate your strips and metre can be. It would help if you took your blood glucose metre for an appointment with your doctor. You can check with their machine there & compare results to avoid errors or discrepancies.
Create a Journal
How about blogging your blood sugar levels by creating a journal? You can record the time of the day for your testing and include the time of your meals. This detailed information is for the doctors to keep track of your blood sugar. It can also help diagnose later when the doctor wants to determine what is causing the blood sugar to spike.
Keep track of your blood sugar over time by safely keeping all your test results. A lot of glucose monitors also have a memory for the same. All these records aid in alerting any kinds of problems or trends. It is promising help for altering meal plans, medicines or exercise programs. Make sure to carry these reports in every checkup.
Factors Affecting Blood Sugar Results
- It is possible that if you are suffering from anaemia or gout, your results may not turn out to be accurate.
- Also, if the weather is hot or humid or you are at a higher altitude, it can undoubtedly impact the results.
- Vitamin C is also a plausible factor for tampering with your results. If you continuously see results on the other side of the scale, it is best to check the strips by recalibrating your metre.
You should take precautions to prevent infections. You can successfully do this by practising the strategies for safe injections. Do not share your blood sugar equipment; dispose of the lancet and the strip after every use. Be careful and wait until your finger has stopped bleeding – before you resume your daily activities.
Pregnant women and people consuming insulin, especially those who have a tough time controlling their blood glucose levels, should constantly check blood sugar levels. Also, people who sense a drop in their sugar levels without any warning signs or have the presence of ketones due to high blood sugar levels need to be extra careful.
The Bottom Line
So why have we taken the pains to discuss testing diabetes at home and tips for accurately checking blood sugar levels? It is because a familiar setting helps to keep your anxiety levels in check. In addition, you can reduce your reliance on medications by following a healthy routine and only need to consult a doctor when there are complications to your health. Blood sugar monitors are always available worldwide and do not require a prescription. Hence, home monitoring is simply helpful for the improvement of your condition. Just make sure that you know the proper techniques for buying a good home blood sugar monitor and are well aware of its usage.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What is the best time to check blood sugar?
A: In the case of multiple injections daily, you should test blood sugar before bedtime and meals. When opting for intermediate or long-acting insulin, it is good to take it before breakfast or dinner.
Q: What is normal blood sugar by age?
A: It is normal to have a blood sugar level of less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L). When the reading exceeds 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) – after 2 hours, that is an indication of diabetes. Prediabetes is when the reading fluctuates between 140 and 199 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L and 11.0 mmol/L).
Q: How do you lower your blood sugar immediately?
A: You can lower your blood sugar immediately by consuming fast-acting insulin or exercising too effectively. Additionally, you can take the help of supplementary insulin. Finally, drink lots of water and stay hydrated to lower your blood sugar levels.
Q: What drink lowers blood sugar?
A: Methi dana or fenugreek seeds have fibre and help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It aids in slowing the digestion process while regulating the absorption of carbohydrates and sugar.
Q. How do I know if I’m diabetic?
A: You will know that you have diabetes when you show early indications of extreme thirst, frequent bouts of urination and slow healing of wounds. You can get confirmation with a blood test.
Q: What are the three most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes?
A: The three most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes include thirst, nutrition, plus increased bouts of hunger.
Q: What does diabetic skin look like?
A: Diabetic skin contains light brown and scaly skin patches that are a sure sign of diabetic dermopathy. The marks can be oval or circular, caused by damaging tiny blood vessels that usually supply tissues with oxygen and nutrition.
Q: Are eggs good for diabetics?
A: Yes, eggs are suitable for people with diabetes because eggs are among the versatile foods and are also a rich source of protein with around half a gram of carbohydrates. That is why eggs have a very low glycemic index score. They are nutrient-rich food with no significant impact on blood sugar levels.
Q: What is a diabetic itch?
A: When diabetes leads to nerve damage, it can cause itching. It is a symptom of diabetic polyneuropathy and can cause itchy skin due to certain skin conditions.
Q: Does diabetes cause joint pain?
A: Yes, it can cause joint pain to damage the joints or nerves. It is associated with two types of arthritis. Over time, diabetes can affect your muscles and skeleton, causing nerve damage, joint pain, and other symptoms.