Article (English)

Article (English)
blood glucose testing
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Different types
of meters are
available for
people with
special needs
such as those
with vision
problems or
difficulty using
their hands or
Keeping in Check: Knowing
Your Blood Glucose Numbers
Why should I check my
blood glucose?
How often should I check my
own blood glucose (sugar)?
Checking your blood glucose (blood sugar)
can give you valuable information. This
information can help you make decisions
about food, activity and medications on a
day-to-day basis since all of these things
have an effect on the blood glucose levels.
Keeping your blood glucose “in check”, in
a target range, can help you prevent some
serious health issues that can come
with diabetes.
How often you check your blood glucose
will depend on a number of things. If you
are using the glucose numbers to adjust
medications, you may need to test more
frequently. Whenever there are changes
to your treatment plan, checking more
frequently will help you know how the
change is working. Your physician or other
health care provider may prescribe a certain
number of blood glucose tests based on
your individual needs. The important thing
is that you get the information you need to
help you make decisions that will keep you
healthy and feeling well.
How can I keep track of my
blood glucose levels?
Checking your blood glucose (sugar) at
home using a blood glucose meter is one
way to help you keep track of how you are
doing with your blood glucose control and
also help you to make decisions about food,
activity and medications day to day.
It helps you to see patterns and how all
these factors may be affecting your blood
glucose level. This is called self-monitoring
of blood glucose.
Having your A1C checked at least twice per
year can help you know how you are doing
with overall control and whether you may
need changes to your treatment plan. People
often refer to this as the “three month
average blood sugar” because it lets you
know how your blood glucose has been for
about the past 2-3 months. This test may be
done at your health care provider’s office or
at a laboratory.
Monitoring of Blood Glucose
(sugar) How do I test?
Using a blood glucose meter (also called a
monitor) at home is the most common way
to check your blood glucose (sugar) level.
The meter is a small, hand-held machine
that can provide results in seconds. By
obtaining a small drop of blood with a small
pen-like device called a lancet and applying
it to a test strip, the meter will give you a
reading of what your glucose (sugar) level
is at that moment in time. Different types of
meters are available for people with special
needs such as those with vision problems or
difficulty using their hands or fingers. Talk
to your health care provider about what is
right for you and learn to use your meter
from a professional.
When and
how often you
check your
blood glucose
(sugar) is a
decision for
you and your
health care
When should I test?
Checking your blood glucose (sugar)
level at different times throughout the day
can be very useful. Many people check
first thing in the morning before they
eat, this is called a fasting blood glucose.
Other common times are before lunch
or supper or 2 hours after the start of a
meal. Some people check at bedtime or
even in the middle of the night, especially
if they are concerned about a low blood
glucose which may happen when they are
sleeping. When and how often you check
your blood glucose (sugar) is a decision
for you and your health care provider.
The more information you have, the more
you will be able to figure out how food,
activity, medications, illness and stress
affect your numbers. Checking can even
help you recognize that you may have an
infection before you start to have other
symptoms. You may want to check more
often if there is a change in your treatment
plan, if you are eating more or less, if you
are more or less active than usual, if you
are stressed or if you are sick. Remember,
feeling okay does not necessarily mean
your blood glucose (sugar) is in an
acceptable range. The only way to know
your blood glucose is to test.
What should my numbers be?
According to the American Diabetes
Association (2008), the recommended
targets for people with diabetes are:
• Pre- meal (including fasting)
70 - 130 mg/dl
• 2 hours after the start of a meal
under 180 mg/dl
• A1C under 7%
You and your health care provider may
choose target numbers for you which
may be different and are based on your
individual needs and circumstances.
The A1C results look different from the
readings you get from your blood glucose
meter. The A1C results are reported in
a percentage and you don’t need to fast
for the test. Here’s how it works: Red
blood cells contain a substance called
hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein, and
although its main job is to carry oxygen to
the lungs, substances like glucose (sugar)
stick to the hemoglobin. We are constantly
making new red blood cells and the old
ones last about 12 weeks. Because the
glucose sticks to the hemoglobin in the red
blood cell and because the cell lasts about
12 weeks, the A1C test tells us how much
glucose (sugar) has been sticking for about
a 2-3 month period of time. It includes all
of the blood glucose levels, every second
of the day. It’s kind of like a batting
average, some days are good and some
days not so good, but your average at the
end of the season tells the real story. It’s
the same with the A1C, the number tells
your average for that 2-3 month period of
time. If your number is above 7%, it may
mean you need a change in your treatment
plan to get things back on track. The
important thing to remember is that A1C
is just a piece of the puzzle but along with
self-monitoring can give a total picture of
glucose control.
Some meters today allow you to use sites
other than your fingers for testing your
blood glucose. This is called alternate site
testing. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to
obtain a drop of blood, but only that you
can use places other than your fingers to
do it such as the fleshy part of your palm,
the forearm and outer thigh, to name a
few. Check your own meter to see what
sites may be used.
Times when you should NOT use alternate
sites because your blood glucose may be
rapidly changing:
For family and Friends
For every one point decrease
in A1C, you reduce your
1. Wash your hands with warm water
4. When you have a good drop of
risk of long-term diabetes
and soap. Using the warm water helps
blood, apply it to your test strip
complications by up to 40%.
make getting a drop of blood easier.
according to your meter instructions.
Washing also helps to remove any
A1c ..... Average Blood Glucose
food residue from your skin which
6% ............... 126 mg/dl
7% ............... 154 mg/dl
8% ............... 183 mg/dl
9% ............... 212 mg/dl
10% ............. 240 mg/dl
11% ............. 269 mg/dl
12% .............. 298 mg/dl
5. Read your results from your meter
and be sure to record the results in
could affect your blood glucose
your blood glucose log book. Be sure
to include any comments which will
2. Hang your hand down by your side
help you remember why a reading
for a few seconds. This allows blood to
may be out of range such as “sick
flow to your finger tips.
today” or “skipped lunch”. The log
3. Prick the side of the tip of your finger
with your lancet device. Make sure it is
set for the right depth. You can check
book makes it easier for your health
care provider to review your readings
at your next visit.
the directions (enclosed with your
device) to see how to do this. Be sure
not to squeeze your finger hard.
• When you think your blood glucose
may be low
• If you have trouble recognizing when
your blood glucose is low
• It’s less than 2 hours since the start of
your meal
• You’ve been physically active
Blood glucose meters have been shown
to provide accurate and precise results.
Unfortunately, inaccurate results can
happen and are often due to human error.
To assure the most accurate results from
your blood glucose meter:
• Keep your meter clean, a dirty meter
may not work as well. Follow the
manufacturer’s instructions for how to
clean your meter.
• Be sure that your meter is accurately
calibrated if this is required.
• Check the test strip bottle for the
expiration date and don’t use test strips
that are outdated.
• Wash your hands with soap and water
and dry well before obtaining a drop of
• Be sure you have an adequate amount
of blood to place on the strip.
• If your meter or test strips have gotten
too cold or too hot, it will not give
accurate results. Be sure the meter
and test strip temperature is within
the manufacturer’s suggested range
before using; this usually means room
It’s a good idea to have your health care
provider or diabetes educator check your
skills using the meter at least once a year.
It’s easy to develop habits that can have
a negative effect on your blood glucose
readings. Your educator or health care
provider can help you to recognize and
correct these habits.
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