How Often Should You Check Your Blood Sugar
As with most things dealing with diabetes, this all depends on your particular body and lifestyle. Work with your care team and doctor to determine the appropriate number of times per day that you should be checking your blood sugars.
Know that not only is everyone different, but peoples needs for more or less frequent checking can change over their lifetime.
For instance, when someone is pregnant, their need for checking goes up immensely, and conversely, if someone with type 2 diabetes weans their way off of insulin, they may need to check less frequently as their likelihood of hypoglycemia is lower without exogenous insulin in their system.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people with type 1 diabetes should at a minimum check between 4 and 10 times per day, and people with type 2 diabetes may only need to check a few times a day , and maybe not at all if they are not on insulin.
But lets be clear: you can check as many times as you need to, and however often youd like . There is nothing wrong with checking more often or whenever you like.
Before During & After Exercise
Checking your blood sugar around exercise is especially important for people who take insulin or other diabetes medications that can cause low blood sugar. Remember to always carry fast-acting carbohydrates with you while exercising.
Especially if youre new to exercise and fitting it into your diabetes management routine, its extremely important to check your blood sugar before, during and after exercise to identify and prevent low blood sugars.
A low blood sugar level before, during, or after exercising:
- Youre getting too much of a certain diabetes medication .
- Your insulin sensitivity or insulin production has improved, which means your medication dosages need to be adjusted by your healthcare team.
A high blood sugar level during, or after exercising can happen, too, although its less common in type 2 diabetes. Certain types of exercise like weightlifting, spinning, sprintingcan trigger your liver to release stored sugar for extra fuel.
Talk to your healthcare team about making any adjustments to your diabetes regimen to help you achieve your blood sugar goals.
Blood Sugar Testing Mistakes To Avoid
1 / 8 Understand Diabetes Testing If you have diabetes, it’s imperative that you learn to effectively self-test your blood sugar to keep your glucose levels in check. For example, results from a study of more than 5,000 people living with diabetes showed that even those people who don’t take medication for diabetes have better blood sugar control if they test regularly. The study participants’ risk of early kidney damage, strokes, and death from diabetes-related causes was also reduced by one-third. Of course, the accuracy of your results is tied to the accuracy of your checking and to your understanding of what all the numbers mean. “The most important point to me is that people are learning something from checking their blood sugar,” says Sacha Uelmen, RDN, CDE, director of nutrition for the American Diabetes Association. “Don’t just look at those numbers, write them down, and move on. If you have diabetes, take an active role in your health.” To get the most useful readings, learn these common blood sugar testing mistakes and how to avoid them.Continue reading > >
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How Does Blood Sugar Testing Work
Knowing how blood testing works means you can do it properly and avoid inaccurate results. According to a study conducted on 370,740 individuals with type 2 diabetes, 14% of the participants were not using their diabetes supplies or self-monitoring their glucose correctly.
To correctly use a blood sugar meter for testing, you need to:
Clean your meter.
Grab a test strip. Tighten the container lid after since moisture can damage strip quality.
Use soap and warm water to wash your hands . Dry entirely and massage your hand for better blood flow to your finger.
Prick the tip of your finger with a lancet, squeezing at the base to create a drop of blood.
Place that blood on the strip, insert it into your blood glucose meter, and wait a few seconds for the blood sugar reading to appear.
Track and measure results for every test, noting your target blood sugar level or range and the goals you created with your doctor.
Dispose of the strip and your lancet properly.
How Meds Impact Blood Sugar Testing
Its important to check blood sugar more frequently if your physician changes your diabetes medications or if youre prescribed other medications, including steroids and certain antibiotics, which can affect blood sugar, notes Wolf. Depending on the drug, it can do wonky things to your blood sugar soon after taking it, sometimes within a few hours. For example, glucocorticoids such as prednisone can cause hyperglycemia via multiple mechanisms, adds Dr. Kohlenberg. His advice: Anytime you start a new medication, review it with your physician to see if this will impact your glucose and diabetes treatment plan.
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New Day Time To Check
The best time to check blood sugar is in the morning, and in particular with morning blood sugar levels as it is a very important measurement for diabetics to evaluate each day. Although you shouldnt do it immediately after you wake up, but you do need to do it before you eat. The body needs some time get up to speed after it slows down while you sleep although it does come around quite quickly. 15 minutes should be fine for having you up to speed metabolically, so after that time check your blood sugar and then have breakfast.
Speaking of the most important meal of the day, there are options that can be better for people with diabetes. Even some of the foods that you might think are healthier choices are the types that can contribute to blood sugar levels being too high. Bran muffins are a great example. Theyre healthier for sure but a lot of the ingredients in the most delicious bran muffins molasses most notably can really spike morning blood sugar levels. Eating foods with these types of ingredients means it is recommended to cut back on carbs to compensate along with what is the best time to check blood sugar.
Whats My Target Range
You might be asking, what’s the normal range for blood sugar levels? The answer is, there is a healthy range that you should ideally be aiming for. The infographics above show the general guidelines, but your individual target range for your blood sugar levels may be different. Youll healthcare team will agree with you what it is.
Youll get different readings at different times of the day, depending on things like what youve eaten and how much you are moving around. Heres a guide to help you get started on finding your target range:
If youre a child with type 1 diabetes
- when you wake up and before meals: 4 to 7mmol/l
- after meals: 5 to 9mmol/l
If youre an adult with type 1 diabetes
- when you wake up and before meals: 5 to 7mmol/l
- before meals at other times of the day: 4 to 7mmol/l
If you have type 2 diabetes
- before meals: 4 to 7mmol/l
- two hours after meals: less than 8.5mmol/l
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Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar In The Morning
If you wear a continuous glucose monitor , or if you routinely check your blood glucose every morning, you can see whether or not you are experiencing early morning hyperglycemia. In addition, you may also experience some of the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia, which may include:
- Frequent and excessive urination
- Blurry vision
How Often Do I Need To Check My Blood Sugar
If you are newly diagnosed with diabetes, I often recommend testing 1 to 2 times per day initially. This is to learn where YOUR blood sugar sits across the day. In addition, if you are in the process of making lifestyle changes or your physician has prescribed medications or insulin to help with blood sugar management – it allows you to see the impact of these changes on blood sugar. Staggered or paired testing patterns would both be great options.
If you have been managing diabetes for a fair amount of time, your overall blood sugar control is stable and within target, aim to test 2 to 3 times per week. This is because blood sugar trends can change over time, maintaining a routine of checking a few times per week is a good way to keep an eye on your own trends in between blood work .
If you take any oral medications associated with a risk of low blood sugar, its a good idea to test blood sugar at least once daily at different times across the day. These medications include: gliclazide , glyburide , glimepiride , and repaglinide . A staggered pattern of testing would be a good option.
If you take basal insulin AND mealtime insulin, test blood sugar before each dose of insulin.
On top of your usual testing pattern, consider additional testing if:
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Monitoring Your Blood Sugar Level
Last Updated May 2022 | This article was created by familydoctor.org editorial staff and reviewed by Robert “Chuck” Rich, Jr., MD, FAAFP
If you have diabetes, its important to monitor your blood sugar at different times of the day and throughout the year. There are 3 tools that can help you do this and, therefore, manage your diabetes: A blood test done every three months, blood tests taken every day, and a system that constantly monitors your blood glucose.
The 3-month blood test is called an A1C test. This test reflects your blood sugar control over the past 2-3 months. Testing your A1C level every 3 months is the best way for you and your doctor to understand how well your blood sugar levels are controlled. Your doctor will likely be the one who orders an A1C test. However, you can also purchase over-the-counter A1C testing kits that you can use at home. Your A1C goal will be determined by your doctor. However, the goal is generally less than 7% or 8%, depending on your age.
The daily blood test is done with a blood glucose monitor . This is also called a home blood sugar meter, a glucometer, or a glucose meter. This type of testing is often referred to as self-monitoring of blood glucose. Your doctor may prescribe a BGM, especially if your blood sugar fluctuates. They will show you how to use it.
What Are The Target Ranges
Blood glucose targets are individualized based on:
- duration of diabetes
- conditions a person may have
- cardiovascular disease or diabetes complications
- hypoglycemia unawareness
- individual patient considerations
The American Diabetes Association suggests the following targets for most nonpregnant adults with diabetes. A1C targets differ based on age and health. Also, more or less stringent glycemic goals may be appropriate for each individual.
- A1C: Less than 7%A1C may also be reported as eAG: Less than 154 mg/dL
- Before a meal : 80130 mg/dL
- 1-2 hours after beginning of the meal *: Less than 180 mg/dL
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How A Winter Cold Affects Blood Sugar Testing
When youre sick, your body produces extra stress hormones , which can raise your blood sugar levels, says Betul Hatipoglu, M.D., professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH. As a result, illness, especially infection, can put those with type 1 diabetes at risk for a diabetes emergency called diabetic ketoacidosis, adds Dr. Thomas. This is a complication resulting from not enough insulin and needs to be treated immediately with fluids and additional insulin medication. Testing your blood glucose levels regularly can help you spot a spike like this and take action quickly.
Why The Test Is Performed
Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of diabetes . More than likely, the doctor will order a fasting blood sugar test.
The blood glucose test is also used to monitor people who already have diabetes.
The test may also be done if you have:
- An increase in how often you need to urinate
- Recently gained a lot of weight
- Blurred vision
SCREENING FOR DIABETES
This test may also be used to screen a person for diabetes.
High blood sugar and diabetes may not cause symptoms in the early stages. A fasting blood sugar test is almost always done to screen for diabetes.
If you are over age 45, you should be tested every 3 years.
If you’re overweight and have any of the risk factors below, ask your health care provider about getting tested at an earlier age and more often:
- High blood sugar level on a previous test
- Blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher, or unhealthy cholesterol levels
- History of heart disease
- Member of a high-risk ethnic group
- Woman who has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes
- Polycystic ovary disease
- Close relative with diabetes
- Not physically active
Children age 10 and older who are overweight and have at least two of the risk factors listed above should be tested for type 2 diabetes every 3 years, even if they have no symptoms.
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Nk N=1 Addendum: Hourly Weight Blood Glucose And Blood Ketone Testing
Im coming up on the 9-month update of my n=1 experiment testing the concept of nutritional ketosis this next week, but I decided to do something over the past week as an addendum to the regular testing Ive been doing. If youve been following my progress on this NK journey since I started it in May 2012 , Ive been testing my blood glucose and blood ketone levels in the morning and at night as well as my weight first thing when I wake up. But just out of curiosity I wanted to up my game a bit and test every hour on the waking hour for one week examining my weight, blood sugar and blood ketone levels. Ive noticed during my experiment that my ketone levels tend to be lower in the morning and higher at night, but I didnt know what was happening in the hours throughout the day and wanted to know. Plus, Ive been wondering what was going on with my blood sugar after meals and exercise. And just for fun , I tested my body weight fully clothed every hour as well. My poor fingers took a pummeling with about 20 finger pricks a day on average , but this information was totally worth the temporary pain. Lets take a look at what happened along with a few observations: DAY 1 SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2013 Fun first day of testing. My blood sugar ranged from 70-94 with the greatest rise predictably after eating. Even still, the increase in blood glucose wasnt that pronounced (predictable considering Im eating vContinue reading > >
When To Test Your Blood Sugar
by Health Writer
If youve got diabetes, keeping blood glucose levels steady is the name of the game. Normally, your body regulates blood sugar well, thanks to a series of feedback mechanisms that involve the secretion of the hormone insulin. But in people with type 1 diabetes, your body doesnt make enough insulin in type 2 diabetes, an inability to effectively use insulin causes glucose levels to swing around. The complex regulation of glucose is one reason that managing diabetes can be challenging for patients, says Jacob Kohlenberg, M.D., assistant professor in the division of diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, MN. Here, tips for tracking your blood sugar levels.
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How Often Should I Test My Blood Sugar Level
Your family doctor will recommend how often you should test. Testing times are based on the kind of medicine you take and on how well your blood sugar levels are controlled. Youll probably need to check your blood sugar more often at first. Youll also check it more often when you feel sick or stressed, when you change your medicine, or if youre pregnant.
What Are The Recommended Targets For Blood Glucose Levels
Many people with diabetes aim to keep their blood glucose at these normal levels:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL
- About 2 hours after a meal starts: less than 180 mg/dL
Talk with your health care team about the best target range for you. Be sure to tell your health care professional if your glucose levels often go above or below your target range.
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Best Times To Check Blood Sugar With Type 1 Diabetes
People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin throughout the day and with meals, since their bodies dont produce insulin on their own. As a result, they need to test their blood sugar frequently, often between four and 10 times a day. Some of the most-common times to test include before and after meals, before and after exercising, before bed, and in some cases, during the night.
According to Wolf, Someone should check blood sugar before meals when they are on a medication, such as insulin, that requires them to adjust their dose based on their blood sugar reading. This so-called correction dose is given if your blood sugar is above your target. It is helpful to check blood sugar one to two hours after eating as well because it tells you how your body responded to your meal.
You may need to test more often if youre sick, starting a new medication, or undergoing another change in your routine, according to the Mayo Clinic.