Living with diabetes is not easy. Diabetes is a progressive, life-long chronic illness that has no cure. This disease, if not controlled, can become life-threatening as well. Therefore, a person diagnosed with type 1, type 2, gestational diabetes, or even prediabetes must do regular blood glucose monitoring. This type of testing tells you the level of blood sugar (glucose) in your blood. Testing can be done conveniently anywhere and anytime if we are self-monitoring. In addition, choosing to consult a medical practitioner is a sound option as well. Regardless of your choice, the sugar level in your blood must stay in a healthy range. In this article, we will demonstrate the role of blood glucose monitoring, how and when to check your glucose level, and the proper guidelines associated with blood glucose monitoring.
The Role of Blood Glucose Monitoring in Diabetes Control
Regular blood glucose monitoring indicates how well your medication, diet, fitness activities, and other features of diabetes control are working to manage your diabetes. Failure to monitor blood sugar levels might result in hyperglycaemia (high sugar level) or hypoglycaemia (low sugar level). This may further lead to potentially high-risk health complications. The role of blood glucose monitoring is pivotal, despite which type of diabetes you have. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and patients have to manage it for the rest of their lives. They can do this by strictly and regularly monitoring their sugar levels along with taking supplemental insulin. In such a case, the pancreas does not produce insulin to keep the glucose level in check. It means type 1 diabetics have to monitor their blood glucose level several times a day. While on the contrary, in type 2 diabetes, the pancreas secretes very little insulin-making our body insulin-sensitive resulting in glucose accumulation. Therefore, glucose monitoring is critical in this scenario too. Gestational diabetics are advised to closely monitor their sugar levels as high and low sugar levels could lead to complications during pregnancy and delivery.
How and When Do I Check?
Monitoring your blood sugar level has become easy thanks to glucometers. Self- Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG) is a procedure where we use such glycaemic readers to measure our glycemia or glucose levels. Using a glucometer to self-check sugar levels is relatively convenient than going to a medical practitioner. A glucometer measures the level of sugar in a sample of blood, typically taken from your fingertip. Your doctor will help you to determine the time and frequency of blood testing suitable for your needs. However, continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) can be more beneficial if you have type 1 diabetes and need to check your glucose levels frequently. This type of glucometer stays attached to your body for some time, decreasing the need for numerous finger pricks in a single day. It remains fixed on your abdomen or upper arm and will provide readings at predetermined intervals.
For safe and easy testing using glucometers, follow the guidelines below:
- Rule number one is always the same: wash your hands. Cleansing prevents infection as well as misreadings because other matters in the blood sample lead to inaccurate results. Dry your hands thoroughly afterward. Alcohol swabs are also a good option for cleansing.
- Then, switch on the machine, place a test strip, and wait for it to indicate the blood sample.
- Do a quick finger prick using the lancet or needle, and place the blood on or at the side of the testing strip. You need an adequate amount of blood and make sure that your skin or other parts are not in contact with the strip while doing this.
- In as little as a few minutes or even seconds, depending on your machine, your reading will be ready. You should consider seeing a doctor if you notice any abnormalities in the measurements.
Guidelines For Successful Blood Glucose Monitoring
We should undertake some necessary measures for successful monitoring of blood glucose levels. Follow these solid tips to avoid potential problems:
- Establish a routine- Regular checking your blood is critical, and you need to build it into your daily routine. Seek guidance from your doctor to establish this and maybe even set the alarm for testing at proper intervals.
- Take care of your testing strips- You have to make sure your strips are not out-of-date or expired. Sunlight and moisture affect the quality, and it goes without saying, using such strips for testing would not guarantee accurate results.
- Do not assume that your reading is authentic- No glucometer provides a one hundred percent guarantee, and you should not believe otherwise. These meters come with a control solution that helps determine accuracy. Also, rule out the chances of discrepancies by comparing your results with one taken by another device at your doctor’s.
- Be cautious of infection- To ensure utmost care to avoid infection, zero sharing of devices amongst patients, and proper disposal of needles and strips after each use, are to be strictly adhered to.
- Get proper training- Get yourself trained by a medical professional on how to self-monitor your glucose levels. Without training, your testing and test results would likely be far from precise.
Common Mistakes To Avoid While Testing
Here are a few mistakes you should avoid to ensure accurate reading of your sugar levels:
- Recording of your before and after meal testing time should be error-free. To ensure this, start counting the time once you start eating and not after finishing your meal. It will guarantee precise postprandial (post-meal reading) sugar level.
- Avoid pricking the same finger over and over again to prevent pain and injury. Take turns poking fingers from either hand.
- The timing of your pricks is as crucial as your finger pricks. Do the testing at different times throughout the day to prevent environmental and physical factors from hampering your reading accuracy.
- Strictly change your lancet or needle after each use. Discard with proper safety measures.
- Adjust the lancet depth according to the thickness of your skin to ensure a suitable prick.
- Not maintaining proper hygiene while testing makes you prone to infections and health risks. Ensure appropriate sanitization before and after testing.
- Not all test strips are suitable for every glucometer. Therefore, make sure that you are using one designed for your device.
Self-monitoring your blood glucose levels is not rocket science. It is pretty much straightforward and convenient as well. The glucometers and Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) are portable and guarantee instant feedback. Jotting down your daily readings or keeping a log is a good idea for you and your doctor to develop an appropriate treatment plan suitable for your needs. Doing so would help determine how your body is responding to your diabetic control plan, which includes your daily diet and physical activities. If your readings turn out to be outside the healthy range, then you need to consult your doctor and determine what went wrong in your plan. The Self-monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG) is a self-control tool and a vital resource. However, some people might find it stressful and even frustrating, having to prick their fingers several times a day, every single day. You must consider discussing these issues with your doctor to come up with an alternate solution.