How to Test Your Blood Sugar

For anyone who suffers from diabetes, it is vital that you regularly check your blood sugar (a term which is also known as glucose) levels. Doing this as often as possible will greatly reduce the risk of further diabetes related complications.

It may seem like this not going to be essential but an issue with diabetes (especially with people who are obese) is that it can develop very quickly and sometimes without the person even knowing about it.

To test your blood sugar levels your doctor will be able to do this for you, but there are kits which will allow anyone to do the same thing in the comfort and privacy of your own home.  

The amount of times you test your blood sugar level will depend entirely on your condition but for those who have type 1 diabetes, they could check the situation around 5 times per day and for type 2 diabetes, maybe a few times per week.

How can I test my blood sugar level?

The most common way of testing your blood sugar level effectively is by doing (what can be referred to as) the finger prick test using Glucometer. You will require a sharp needle which will draw blood and only a drop will be required.

Once this has been done, the blood needs to put onto a strip for testing which will then provide you with an accurate reading.

A major benefit of this method is that it often only takes around 15 seconds to
get the results.

If you visit your doctor then they are likely to conduct the same test but aside from this, there are specialised kits which can be readily purchased from your local pharmacy and done in (hopefully) relative
comfort.

Top tip: Should you be unsure about how to go about the process of obtaining an accurate blood sugar reading then don’t be afraid to see your doctor. They will be able to show you exactly how it should be done so that you can start doing it at home.

Record your readings

This may seem obvious but it is recommended that you make a note of all blood sugar readings so that you can establish if there is a pattern emerging, as well as working out if there is a possible sign of you developing diabetes.

A major benefit from noting down all readings is that it will help you understand the effects that certain aspects like stress and exercise can all play their part and possibly make the level higher or lower, compared with a previous day.

Interpreting the results

It doesn’t matter if you are doing a blood sugar test for the first time, or the hundredth time, trying to interpret the results may appear difficult but in fact it is actually quite easy.

The following figures are recommended targets in the UK and they should give you a better idea of what to expect:

  • If a reading is taking before a meal then the reading should come in at between 4 and 7 mmol/l
  • Following a meal (approximately 2 hours after eating), the reading should be lower than 9 mmol/l
  • At the time of going to bed, the blood sugar level will need to be a 8 mmol/l or less

If you are ever unsure about some of the readings you end up obtaining then you can always consult your doctor for advice,  especially if one or more of the readings end up being higher then the recommended thresholds listed above.

There are certain scenarios which could lead to the blood sugar level being higher or lower on a particular day but by monitoring this carefully, you will soon find out what the cause for this might have been and work at making sure it doesn’t happen again.

Controlling blood sugar levels

When it comes to your blood sugar levels (if you find them to be high), then it is important to keep them under control and at a safe threshold because otherwise this is going to greatly reduce the risk of further complications that are commonly associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Possible problems could include:

  • Neuropathy (this is something which can be extremely painful)
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • There could be an increased risk of ulcers which could easily become infected without proper and prompt treatment

It is actually quite easy to control blood sugar levels and this outcome can be achieved by exercising regularly as well as ensuring that you have a diet that is both balanced and healthy.

When should I test my blood sugar level?

Every person who has diabetes is going to be different and some people are almost certainly going to need to test their blood sugar level more than others, maybe a few times per day. But the question you might be asking at this stage is when exactly should I check the level?

That is a very fair question! The first answer to this would be that if you feel unwell at any time then it is best to do the test because the level could be high or low.

Others times that you might want to consider doing a test (this is definitely going to depend on the type of diabetes and individual needs) is before / after a specific meal, prior to and post exercise, as well as before bed.

Top tip: If you have been diagnosed with diabetes then your doctor might be able to give you an idea of how often you should look at doing blood sugar tests.

Sometimes the thought of dealing with diabetes and controlling it effectively may make you feel like you’re going it alone, but in fact you’r not! Your practitioner and/or dedicated diabetes team know what you are going through and will help by providing guidance and support where possible to make a common yet serious and sometimes problematic condition a lot more manageable.

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