Blood Sugar Testing At Home
A person can test their blood sugar levels at home.
In most cases, doctors ask people to measure fasting blood sugar immediately upon waking and before they have anything to eat or drink. It may also be appropriate to test blood sugar before eating or 2 hours after a meal, which is when blood sugar returns to normal levels.
The right time to test depends on treatment goals and other factors. For example, most people with diabetes do not need to test between meals unless they are using a diabetes drug that can lower blood sugar. Other people may test between meals if they feel their sugar levels may be low.
Since people with type 1 diabetes do not make any insulin, they need to test their blood sugar levels several times a day so they can adjust their insulin doses.
A person will test blood sugar levels by:
- preparing the testing strip and glucose monitor to be ready for the blood sample
- using an alcohol swab to clean the testing area, which is usually the side of a fingertip
- lancing the testing area and bracing against a firm surface to help resist the impulse to pull away
- squeezing the testing area around the wound to maximize blood flow
- squeezing a drop of blood onto the test strip
- putting the strip into the monitor
- recording the time, blood sugar reading, and recent food intake in a log
When Should I Check My Blood Sugar
How often you check your blood sugar will depend on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan. Some of the most common times to check include the following:
- When you first wake up
- Before exercise
You should also check your blood sugar if you experience symptoms of low or high blood sugar. Symptoms to look out for include fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, dry mouth, shakiness, and sweating.
Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to ensure that you fully understand your monitoring schedule.
Before Driving A Vehicle Or Operating Machinery
Low blood sugar levels can cause fatigue, dizziness, cognitive difficulties, and loss of muscle coordination according to FamilyDoctor.org.It can be dangerous to drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery with low blood sugar levels. Check your glucose to see if you need to eat a snack before driving.
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When To Test Your Blood Sugar
Depending on your unique needs, they may suggest testing blood sugar at any of the following times:
1. Before breakfast
Testing before youve had anything to eat or drink in the morning, also known as a fasting blood sugar, can let you know how well your body manages blood sugar while you sleep. It also gives you a baseline to see changes in your blood sugar throughout the day.
2. Before each meal
Checking blood sugar before meals tells people who inject insulin if they need to take a correction dose of insulin in addition to taking their bolus insulin to cover the meal. When testing in pairs , a pre-meal reading can act as a reference for how the food you eat and any pre-meal medications affect your glucose levels.
3. After each meal
The food you consume has a large effect on your blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends testing 1 to 2 hours after the start of a meal. To determine if your blood sugar level is where it should be, work with your healthcare professional to establish your target after-meal glucose range.
4. Before bedtime
A blood sugar reading taken before bedtime can tell you if your blood sugar is in a safe range, or if you need to have a snack before going to bed. It is also a point of reference for your morning blood sugar test, to compare and get a picture of how your blood sugar levels changed overnight.
5. In the middle of the night
6. Before, during, and after physical activity
8. When youre sick or stressed
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Hours After Eating A Meal
Checking your blood sugar approximately 1 to 2 hours after eating is hugely important, because it tells you if your body has the tools it needs in order to handle your meals. Being consistently higher or lower than your goal range after eating can tell you some very important and clear things about your current diabetes management regimen.
A high blood sugar level 1 to 2 hours after eating could suggest:
- Your body may need more rapid-acting insulin for your last meal.
- If you were high before the meal, and high 2 hours after, your body may need more basal/background insulin.
A low blood sugar level in the hours after eating could suggest:
- Your body may need less rapid-acting insulin for your last meal.
- If you also engaged in physical activity after eating, you may need a reduced meal dose.
Talk to your healthcare team about making any adjustments to your diabetes regimen to help you achieve your blood sugar goals.
How Can One Tell If I Have Diabetes By Examining My Blood
Your body converts sugar, also called glucose, into energy so your body can function. The sugar comes from the foods you eat and is released from storage from your bodys own tissues.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Its job is to move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of tissues. After you eat, the level of glucose in the blood rises sharply. The pancreas responds by releasing enough insulin to handle the increased level of glucose moving the glucose out of the blood and into cells. This helps return the blood glucose level to its former, lower level.
If a person has diabetes, two situations may cause the blood sugar to increase:
- The pancreas does not make enough insulin.
- The insulin does not work properly.
As a result of either of these situations, the blood sugar level remains high, a condition called hyperglycemia or diabetes mellitus. If left undiagnosed and untreated, the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, blood vessels and other organs can be damaged. Measuring your blood glucose levels allows you and your doctor to know if you have, or are at risk for, developing diabetes.
Much less commonly, the opposite can happen too. Too low a level of blood sugar, a condition called hypoglycemia, can be caused by the presence of too much insulin or by other hormone disorders or liver disease.
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How Can I Check My Blood Sugar
Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.
How To Prevent Post
Taking fast-acting prandial, or mealtime, insulin 2030 minutes before eating a meal can reduce blood sugar spikes because the insulin will begin to work when glucose from food starts to enter the bloodstream. Additionally, a portioned diet rich in foods like vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and fruit can cause a slower rise in blood sugar and help prevent post-meal spikes. Your healthcare provider can help you determine what strategy is best for you.
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What To Know About Blood Sugar Levels And Driving
If you have type 1 diabetes or have type 2 diabetes and take insulin, its possible to develop low blood sugar while driving, causing difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and operating the vehicle. You may even pass out. Before you head out on the road, check your blood sugar levels, especially if youre taking insulin or insulin-releasing med, such as Glucotrol , says Dr. Thomas. Depending on the length of your journey, you should also pull over during your trip to check your levels again. The bottom line: Swings in glucose levels with diabetes can be controlled if you monitor them carefully.
Stress, Meals, Exercise and Blood Sugar Testing:Journal of Diabetes Research. Variables to Be Monitored via Biomedical Sensors for Complete Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Management: An Extension of the On-Board Concept.
Regular Blood Sugar Testing:Diabetes Care. Management of Hyperglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes, 2018. A Consensus Report by the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes .
Hypoglycemia:BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care. Never Again Will I Be Carefree: A Qualitative Study of the Impact of Hypoglycemia on Quality of Life Among Adults with Type 1 Diabetes.
If You Start Stop Or Change Any Medications
Different medications can have an effect on your blood sugar, for example, steroids and anti-psychotic medications increase your blood sugar levels according to the American Diabetes Association. Several medications, such as beta-blockers, bactrim, MAO inhibitors, and metformin can cause low blood sugar according to MedLinePlus. Whenever you start, stop or change medication, it is a good idea to frequently test your blood sugar until you understand how the medication affects your glucose levels.
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How To Manage Blood Sugar Spikes After Meals
If you’re trying to manage diabetes, you already know it’s important to keep track of your blood sugar levels. But how do you handle a spike that comes after you eat? It’s called “postprandial” blood glucose, and if you take some simple steps, you can get it under control and help avoid health problems.
How To Do A Finger
Your healthcare team will show you how to do it the first time, but these are the key steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dont use wet wipes as the glycerine in them can affect the test result. Make sure your hands are warm so its easier to get blood and wont hurt as much.
- Take a test strip and slot it into the meter to turn it on. Some meters will have tests strips built in.
- Remove the cap from your finger prick device and put in a new lancet. Then put the cap back on and set the device by pulling or clicking the plunger.
- Choose which finger to prick but avoid your thumb or index finger . And dont prick the middle, or too close to a nail. Place the device against the side of your finger and press the plunger. Use a different finger each time and a different area.
- Take your meter with the test strip and hold it against the drop of blood. Itll tell you if the test strip is filled, usually by beeping.
- Before you look at your reading, check your finger. Use a tissue to stop bleeding, then use it to take out the lancet and throw it away in your sharps bin.
- You can use the same tissue to take out the test strip and throw that away too. Taking out the strip will usually turn the meter off.
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How To Manage After
Get medicine that works for you. The right insulin or medication program can make a big difference. In general, to cover after-meal spikes, those that kick in quickly and for a short time are a better choice than ones that work slowly over a long period. Your doctor can explain your options.
Keep blood sugar in check before meals. That way, even if it goes up after you eat, it won’t be so dramatic.
Watch what you eat. Limit sweets, white bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. They tend to trigger post-meal spikes.
The type of fat you eat may play a role, as well. One study shows you may be able to curb blood sugar spikes after you eat if you skip foods with lots of butter and choose a meal made with a little olive oil instead.
Eat breakfast every morning. Even when you’re in a hurry to get out the door, don’t be tempted to skip it. A study shows that folks with diabetes who don’t eat breakfast get higher blood sugar spikes after lunch and dinner.
The ideal morning meal? It might just be one that’s packed with protein. A small study shows that when people ate a 500-calorie breakfast that was 35% protein, their post-meal blood sugar levels were lower than those who started their day with high-carb food. But check with your doctor to see what’s right for you.
Go for an after-dinner walk. It’s a healthy habit for everyone, but if you have diabetes, it’s also a good way to burn extra glucose from a meal.
How To Use A Blood Glucose Meter:
- After washing your hands, insert a test strip into your meter.
- Use your lancing device on the side of your fingertip to get a drop of blood.
- Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood and wait for the result.
- Your blood glucose level will appear on the meter’s display.
Note: All meters are slightly different, so always refer to your user’s manual for specific instructions.
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The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Glucose
Blood sugar monitoring is the primary tool you have to find out if your blood glucose levels are within your target range. This tells you your blood glucose level at any one time.
Its important for blood glucose levels to stay in a healthy range. If glucose levels get too low, we can lose the ability to think and function normally. If they get too high and stay high, it can cause damage or complications to the body over the course of many years.
The logging of your results is vital. When you bring your log to your health care provider, youll have a good picture of your body’s response to your diabetes care plan. To help keep track of your levels, we have a glucose log. We also have a blood glucose log available for purchase that is smaller so you can carry it with you.
Late Eating Could ‘tip The Scale’ Toward Weight Gain
The first of the two new studies involved 16 people who were overweight or obese. They tried two different eating regimens for one day each. First, some of the participants started eating an hour after their natural wake-up time, while the rest waited to start eating until about five hours after waking up. Then the two groups switched schedules on a later date.
The meals they all consumed were identical and the quantity of calories and nutrients was consistent across both schedules, according to Frank Scheer, the studys senior author and director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Womens Hospital.
The researchers measured participants’ hormone levels and found that late eating decreased levels of leptin a hormone that helps people feel full by 16% on average. Late eating also doubled the odds that people felt hungry .
Furthermore, the researchers found that late eaters had an increased desire for starchy and salty foods, as well as meat, dairy and vegetables. Scheer said that might be because people crave more energy-dense foods when they’re hungrier.
The study also found consistent changes in fat tissue associated with the late-eating regimen, suggesting an increased likelihood of building up new fat cells and a decreased chance of burning fat.
But Scheer said more research is needed before he’s comfortable making any recommendations.
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Is There Anything Else I Should Know About A Blood Glucose Test
If you have diabetes, you may need to do blood sugar testing at home every day to help manage your blood glucose levels. There are two ways to do this:
- Blood glucose meters require you to prick your finger with a small device called a lancet. You apply a drop of blood to a test strip and insert it into a small, electronic glucose meter, which measures the glucose is in your blood.
- Continuous glucose monitors use a tiny sensor that you insert under your skin. Every few minutes, the sensor measures glucose levels in fluids between your cells. If your glucose is too high or too low, you use a blood glucose meter to check your blood levels before making changes to raise or lower your glucose level.
How Do I Check My Blood Sugar
You use a blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar. This device uses a small drop of blood from your finger to measure your blood sugar level. You can get the meter and supplies in a drug store or by mail.
Read the directions that come with your meter to learn how to check your blood sugar. Your health care team also can show you how to use your meter. Write the date, time, and result of the test in your blood sugar record. Take your blood sugar record and meter to each visit and talk about your results with your health care team.
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