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Monitoring Blood Sugar

Everyone who has diabetes should check his/her blood glucose (sugar) level between visits to the doctor.

Why should you check?

Testing your blood tells you when your blood sugar is too high or too low. It is an important part of caring for yourself when you have diabetes. Knowing your blood sugar level helps you and your doctor decide if you need to start taking diabetes medication or if you need to change your medication or eating habits. Checking your sugar also helps you to see how changes in your treatment can affect your control. You can also see what happens to your blood sugar if you do not follow your treatment plan.

When should you check?

Your health care team will tell you the best times to check blood sugars. There is not one best testing plan for everyone. Some of the common times to test are:

  • before meals
  • before breakfast and two hours after meals, and whenever you feel sick or think that your sugar may be too low or too high

How do you check your blood sugar?

A finger stick test using a blood glucose meter is a simple way to check your blood sugar. Your health care provider will teach you how to perform this test.

  • Write down all of your results (with the time and date) in your log book or record sheet.
  • Be sure to take your blood sugar records and meter with you to all of your diabetes appointments.
  • Write any questions you may have regarding your blood sugar results. Also write down any information that will help your diabetes care providers better understand your blood sugar patterns. For example, make a note on your record (or in your log book) by the days you are very “stressed,” are more active (or less active) than usual, you eat more (or less) or when you are sick.

Things to remember

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before you test your sugar.
  • Get enough blood on the test strip. (Warm your hands if they are cold. This will improve blood flow to your fingers.)
  • Store the test strips in their original bottle or foil package. Always keep the cap firmly screwed on to the bottle.
  • Each time you get a new container of strips be sure to recode your meter and check your meter for accuracy using the control solution
  • Keep your meter and supplies out of direct sunlight, very hot or very cold temperatures, and humidity.
  • Keep your meter clean (see manufacture’s instructions).
  • Clean your meter if the results seem wrong.
  • Locate the expiration dates on your control solution and test strips.
  • Do not use expired test strips or control solution.
  • The control solution is good for 3 months once opened.

QuickTip: Use a Food Journal to Monitor Blood Glucose

Journals help people sort out feelings, monitor spending habits, and document their lives. For a person with diabetes (PWD), a journal that documents food intake can be a powerful tool.

Use a food journal to help you:

  • monitor and lose weight
  • manage blood glucose
  • discover eating habits and behaviors

Your success with a food journal depends on how honest and detailed you are in your reporting. Used effectively, journaling is a proven method for losing weight, managing blood glucose, and discovering eating habits.