Having diabetes comes with many responsibilities, one of which is checking your blood sugar. Checking blood sugar can be a very overwhelming task for the person with diabetes. I should know, I have had Type 2 diabetes for nine years. In the beginning, although I knew the importance of it, I didn’t see the benefit of checking my blood sugar. Soon after my diagnosis, I went through diabetes education and then understood why I needed to check my blood sugar every day.
I often find that my clients aren’t aware of the benefits of checking blood sugar and, unfortunately, our doctors don’t always have the time to explain why checking is so crucial.
The number one reason to check your blood sugar regularly is so that you can know how you are managing your diabetes on a day-to-day basis. Unlike a low blood sugar when we often experience symptoms like shakiness, nervousness, heart racing, our bodies may not be able to tell us something is wrong when we have a high blood sugar. However, it is very important to try to avoid high blood sugars from happening.
So, when should I check my blood sugar?
You should check your blood sugar three times per day:
- First thing, when you get up in the morning (that is called the Fasting blood sugar)
- Right before the start of a meal
- Two hours after the start of a meal
Testing before meals and two hours after the start of a meal can be done around the same meal or different meals. It’s up to you and your provider.
If your insurance doesn’t cover enough test strips for you to check three times a day (100 per month), then you should check first thing when you wake up and two hours after the start of a meal. If your insurance only covers one strip a day or you don’t have insurance you can test once a day, but change the time of day. For example, on some days check first thing in the morning, and on others check two hours after you eat. By varying the time of day, you are only using one strip, but seeing numbers at different times of the day.
Your blood sugar results should be between 80-130mg/dl first thing in the morning and before the start of a meal. Your blood sugar should be below 180mg/dl two hours after you start eating a meal. When you consistently have blood sugars in those ranges, your A1C (3-month average of your blood sugars) will be at or below the recommended goal of 7%. If they are not in those ranges, then you have some work to do. You could ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down the next step:
- Are you taking your medication as the doctor prescribed, and not forgetting or skipping some doses?
- Could you be more active, like walking?
- Are you eating the correct amount of carbohydrates? Not too much and not too little?
- Could you need a change of diabetes medication?
I recommend that you write down your blood sugar results with the date and time. It will be easier to see when they are in-range or out of range to help you figure out what you can do to improve the numbers, and to help you know when your numbers are in a healthy range.
If you are not checking your blood sugar every single day, that is where you need to start! After all, you cannot manage what you are not measuring.
By: Nanette Sabell, RPh, CDE
Cecelia Health Certified Diabetes Educator