Diabetes is a serious condition whereby the body is unable to manage blood sugar levels. There are several types of diabetes, including Type 1, Type 2, and gestational. As part of treatment, most individuals with diabetes monitor their blood sugar, also referred to as blood glucose.
Why is it important to manage this chronic condition? Without treatment, diabetes can lead to nerve damage, foot problems, and even amputation. Fortunately, modern medicine has made it relatively easy to track one’s glucose levels. By identifying patterns and issues before they become serious, people with diabetes can take care of their health and live full, happy lives.
What Is Blood Glucose Monitoring?
What exactly is blood sugar and why is it so important? Our cells need the power to perform their functions; glucose is the main source of power and is transported via the bloodstream. We absorb it from the foods we eat, primarily carbohydrates.
To regulate the amount of glucose we have in our bloodstreams, the pancreas produces insulin, which moves excess glucose to the liver, and glucagon, which prompts the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream. If your body is unable to regulate blood sugar on its own, you’ll need medication to help it do so. You’ll also need a blood glucose meter to identify when your levels are outside the normal range.
Who Should Monitor Their Blood Glucose Levels?
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, your physician may recommend monitoring your blood sugar levels. One of the most common practices is to test in the morning, before you eat, after you eat, and before bed.
You should also test if you’re experiencing symptoms associated with blood sugar levels outside the normal range:
- Frequent urination
- Persistent thirst
A glucose meter can verify if the symptoms are, in fact, caused by your blood sugar levels, which you can then treat accordingly.
How Can You Take a Blood Glucose Reading?
Even if you have no formal medical training, you can test your own blood sugar levels with a glucose meter. There are many of these devices on the market, most of which are small enough to be held in one hand, making them perfect for carrying throughout the day. They also provide prompts on their screens to guide individuals through the testing process.
If you have a visual impairment, there are also models that give audio readings as well. Many even record your data and generate averages so you can track your levels more easily.
All that said, it’s important that you not rely solely on your meter to provide an accurate reading. You need to be familiar with the process and follow the steps correctly to get precise results.
1. Gather Supplies
To test your blood glucose levels, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Glucose meter
- Test strips
If your meter requires coding, make sure this is taken care of before testing; you’ll need to enter the code from the bottle of test strips every time you open a new one. Otherwise, the results won’t be accurate.
You should also ensure that the test strips haven’t been exposed to air or light, as this can interfere with reading. Additionally, check the strips’ expiration date; if they’ve expired, they need to be thrown away.
Now that you’ve taken the preliminary steps, it’s time to insert the test strip into the meter. Make sure that the strip is fully inserted or you may have to test again.
2. Prepare the Test Site
The best place to take a sample is your fingertips, as the circulation is quicker there and allows you to get a current reading. However, some meters can test from alternate sites, such as the palm, forearms, or even the legs. Before you attempt to test on an alternate site, make sure your meter can process the sample.
Before pricking yourself with the lancet, it’s critical that you clean your skin with an alcohol wipe or by washing with soap and water. This will eliminate anything on your skin that may impact the results, such as food residue, dirt, or natural skin oil. Make sure you wipe away any excess moisture after cleaning to avoid diluting your sample.
3. Apply Sample to the Test Strip
Once you have a suitable blood sample, press it to the testing strip. You should try to get a generous amount, as meters require around a microliter of blood to detect glucose. If you feel the sample is insufficient, don’t add more; most meters can’t accept additional drops on the same test strip. Instead, insert a new test strip and try again.
You should also refrain from squeezing the site; while this may yield a larger sample, it will also contaminate your capillary blood with fluid closer to your skin’s surface. This can dilute the sample and create unreliable results.
4. Read the Results
Most devices can give you results in less than 15 seconds, though the best glucose meter can do it in five. The screen will generate a number, which you can compare to the normal blood glucose range. This will depend on how recently you’ve eaten, as it takes time for your body to break down food and release glucose into your bloodstream. If you’ve eaten recently, you should wait at least an hour before testing.
After-meal numbers should be no more than 180 mg/dL. “Fasting” glucose levels or levels measured more than two hours after eating, should be between 80 and 130 mg/dL. If your numbers are higher or lower, you need to take action to bring your blood sugar into the normal range. If you consistently have dips and spikes, you should talk to your doctor immediately.
What Are the Benefits?
Understanding your blood sugar levels gives you an important tool in managing your diabetes. Once you know your regular ranges, you can see how lifestyle changes, such as exercise and meal choices, affect your condition. Keeping regular records can also help your doctor identify if you need adjustments to your medication. In fact, it’s fair to call glucose testing a key part of maintaining your health.
Having a reliable glucose meter is integral to managing your diabetes. As an accredited and licensed medical supplies provider, MedEnvios Healthcare offers only the highest quality devices. We’re dedicated to providing stellar products and service to customers, including follow-up calls to ensure you’re satisfied. For more information, visit us online or call us at 1-800-489-1625.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov