How to check blood sugar levels–and what the numbers mean
Blood sugar testing is important for people with diabetes, and blood sugar testing keeps diabetes management simple and less painful. It serves as a good indicator of how you are doing on your current management plan while showing you how diet and exercise affect your blood sugar levels. Additionally, having a consistent record of your blood sugar levels will help you to keep track when your levels are too high or too low for an extended period of time.
The American Diabetes Association recommends testing at different parts of the day to get more complete results. There are different ways to check your blood sugar levels, which will make managing your diabetes much easier, and help you to gain more control of your life.
Methods to Check Blood Sugar Levels
Traditional Home Blood Sugar Monitoring. Pricking your finger, putting a drop of blood on a test strip and then placing the strip into a meter that displays your blood sugar level.
Meters That Test Alternative Sites. Similar to the traditional method, but this newer meter allows you to test sites other than your fingertip; these alternative testing sites may include upper arm, forearm, base of the thumb, and thigh.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. Also known as interstitial glucose measuring devices. Some of these devices are combined with insulin pumps. They are not as accurate as fingerstick glucose results but can be used to see patterns and trends.
**Newer technologies, such as spectroscopy and electromagnetic waves, are being worked out as ways to test blood sugar levels without piercing the skin.
(Adapted from WebMD. To see more details on these methods, sign up on the My Diabetes Home site and receive useful articles like this one.)
What do the Numbers Mean?
Recording your results will allow you to see how different foods, activities and stress affect your blood glucose. (Take note if you have levels too high or too low for several days in a row. It might be a sign to change your management plan.)
The guidelines for blood sugar testing below come from BD Diabetes Learning Center, based on the recommendations from the ADA:
Morning Reading. Taking a reading on an empty stomach serves as an indicator of how well your pancreas produces insulin during long periods of fasting. The number should be between 90 and 130 mg/dL.
Pre-Meals. Using readings before lunch and dinner, you will know how well your insulin production is from breakfast and lunch. The number should be between 90 and 130.
Post-Meals. Taking a reading 2 hours after a meal shows how your insulin production is when your glucose levels typically peak. The reading should be less than 180 mg/dL.
Before Bed. This is an important reading, as you do not want to have too low a level of glucose. A target range for someone with diabetes is 110 to 150 mg/dL.
Having a detailed record of your blood sugar will better prepare you for your day-to-day diabetes management. You should always remember to keep track of your diet, blood sugar and other routines to ensure that your diabetes does not cause you problems.
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