January 23, 2015

How and When to Test Your Blood Sugar With Diabetes – Part 1

I will split this blog as otherwise it will be too long. Because of the mistakes in this article at this link on WebMD, I will put my comments in red hereafter.

How and When to Test Your Blood Sugar With Diabetes

Most people with diabetes need to check their blood sugar (glucose) levels regularly. The results help you and your doctor manage those levels, which helps you avoid diabetes complications.

There are several ways to test your blood sugar:

From Your Fingertip: You prick your finger with a small, sharp needle (called a lancet) and put a drop of blood on a test strip. Then you put the test strip into a meter that shows your blood sugar level. You get results in less than 15 seconds and can store this information for future use. Some meters can tell you your average blood sugar level over a period of time and show you charts and graphs of your past test results. You can get blood sugar meters and strips at your local pharmacy.

This is not the proper procedure for any meter and test strip I have come across. First, you do not want to use a lancet by itself and if you really want pain you can try it this way, but I don't recommend it. If you wish to waste money and test strips, follow the directions above. My meter requires the test strip be inserted into the slot and be read by the meter before it is ready for the blood. While the meter reads the test strip this is when you use the lancing device (with lancet inserted) to prick the side of your finger at a setting that will furnish enough blood to then pick up the meter with the test strip and slide it slightly into the blood so that it can wick into the test strip. Most meters today will give a reading in five seconds.

Meters That Test Other Sites: Newer meters let you test sites other than your fingertip, such as your upper arm, forearm, base of the thumb, and thigh. You may get different results than from your fingertip. Blood sugar levels in the fingertips show changes more quickly than those in other testing sites. This is especially true when your blood sugar is rapidly changing, like after a meal or after exercise. If you are checking your sugar when you have symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should use your fingertip if possible, because these readings will be more accurate.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring System: These devices, also called interstitial glucose measuring devices, are combined with insulin pumps. They are similar to finger-stick glucose results and can show patterns and trends in your results over time.

Word of warning – the readings may be similar to finger-stick results, but you can only rely on the readings for patterns and trends. You will still need to use the meter and finger-stick results for accuracy.

When Should I Test My Blood Sugar?

You may need to check your blood sugar several times a day, such as before meals or exercise, at bedtime, before driving, and when you think your blood sugar levels are low.

The above is more complete than most are willing to say and definitely goes against the teaching of the American Diabetes Association. What is ignored is the after meal testing or “Testing in pairs” which helps us know how the food we consumed affects our blood glucose.

Many people will need to purchase test strips out of their own pocket because insurance will not pay for that many test strips. For those that cannot afford the extra test strips, they must decide when to test to get the information they desire.

Everyone is different, so ask your doctor when and how often you should check your blood sugar. If you're sick, you'll probably need to test your blood sugar more often.

What Affects Your Results

If you have certain conditions, like anemia or gout, or if it's hot or humid or you're at a high altitude, that can affect your blood sugar levels.

They don't mention recent blood transfusions or dialysis which makes blood glucose testing and HbA1c results unreliable. Recalibrating your meter or checking your test strips will only waste them.

If you keep seeing unusual results, recalibrate your meter and check the test strips.

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