Blood Sugar Monitoring


Though there are many elements that are important for managing diabetes on a daily basis, blood sugar management is the most essential.


Why monitor blood sugar?

If taking insulin, it is important to know the blood sugar level to determine the correct dosage. It is essential for the diabetic health care team to know blood sugar levels so that insulin, other medications, meal plans, and exercise schedules can be adjusted accordingly. It is possible that the need for diabetes medication could decrease or disappear entirely for some people. This cannot be determined without good monitoring.


When to monitor blood sugar?

Most people with well-controlled diabetes who are not taking any medications need to have their blood sugar checked only 2—3 times a week. Monitoring 2—4 times a day is necessary for most individuals with diabetes in order to track the changes that may occur. People with diabetes who are ill, have more than two insulin shots a day, or are pregnant, may need to check blood sugar even more often. The best times to do this are before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at bedtime, and 1—2 hours after meals.


How to monitor blood sugar?

This can be done with a drop of blood which is obtained by pricking the side of a finger tip with a lancing device. A lancing device is usually a small spring loaded device with a sterile needle, or lancet. Be sure that hands are cleaned with soap and water and well massaged for good blood flow before pricking a finger.


What is the A1C test?

The A1C (also called HbA1c) is a blood test shows how blood sugar levels were controlled over the previous two to three months. It should be done by your doctor at least twice a year. Aim for a level below 6.5.


What method to use?

Depending on what the physician and the rest of the health care team decide, one of two methods to read the sugar in the drop of blood can be used.


Visual testing

This method consists of applying the drop of blood to a plastic test strip and comparing the color of the tip with the range of colors given on the strip bottle to determine the range that the blood sugar falls into.


Meter testing

Meter testing provides a more exact reading of blood sugar levels. Though the strips used with a meter are similar to those used in visual testing, the glucometer reads the color of the strip in actual numbers.


Which is the best meter to use?

There are a variety of meters available. Choosing the correct meter for testing blood sugar levels depends a great deal on individual dexterity, vision, hand size, lifestyle, and insurance coverage/cost. The visually impaired can choose from meters that give a verbal reading. Most companies exchange old meters for new ones.


Continuous Glucose Monitors

In recent years there has been much research into the development of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in order to eliminate the need for finger pricking. There are now several CGMs that are FDA certified and are also approved for insurance reimbursement. Occasional testing with regular meters should still be used to validate CGM results.