When Should You Check Your Blood Sugar for Diabetes?
Do you suspect you have high blood sugar levels? You should start monitoring your glucose levels. Here’s when you should check your blood sugar.
People who have diabetes need to do 4 things daily to manage their condition. They have to eat right, get regular exercise, take their diabetes meds, and test their blood sugar.
The last one is of particular importance. If you don’t check your blood sugar, you won’t know if you are managing your diabetes well. Everything else depends on you monitoring your glucose levels.
If something’s off, your doctor may need to change your diet, as well as your workout and medicine plan. Of course, the big question is when should you check your blood sugar. Let’s talk about blood glucose testing times, plus some challenges to expect, and how to solve them.
First Things First
So you suspect you have high blood sugar levels. Or you’ve seen a doctor and have confirmed that it’s diabetes. The next step is to familiarize yourself with a blood sugar monitor.
Your doctor will also set goals for blood sugar levels. This will give you an idea about what numbers to shoot for when blood sugar monitoring. Now, these numbers may differ based on the type of diabetes you have, your age, and your health in general.
In a lot of cases, patients will take a fasting reading before breakfast. But there are also those who check their blood sugar levels before every meal. Some – based on the advice of their doctors – do blood sugar monitoring before and after all meals.
How Often Should You Check?
In an ideal world, someone who has Type 1 diabetes should check six or seven times daily. But that’s easier said than done.
If you’re working full-time, it’s going to be difficult. It’s also challenging for some patients because test strips can be expensive.
The general rule to follow is if your Type 1 diabetes is in control, you can do 4 times a day monitoring. If you have Type 2 diabetes and your condition is stable, you should aim for at least twice a day checking.
Now if you’re limiting yourself to one or two strips a day, you should vary your testing times at different days. Doing this will give you a clearer picture of your blood sugar patterns.
One way to do it is to skip your after-breakfast readings if your numbers are steady and in range. Try before and after lunch or before and after dinner to see if your blood sugar levels are fluctuating or not.
The Best Time to Check Blood Sugar
There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation when it comes to blood sugar testing times. The most common times to check would be before each meal, 1 or 2 hours post-meal, and before bedtime.
Sometimes, a doctor will ask a patient to check in the middle of the night or before a workout. Other times, a patient will need to check during and after a physical activity to see if he or she needs a snack.
Blood sugar monitoring times will also change if you’re sick. You see, when you’re sick, your body will release hormones to combat the disease.
But these hormones could raise blood glucose levels. They could also hinder your meds from working in a proper manner.
Blood Sugar Monitoring Challenges and Solutions
Getting into a routine of constant blood sugar monitoring is a challenge in itself. But there are other things to watch out for as well. These include:
If you need to test 4 times a day, you can get bruised and sore fingertips. This is often the case with people who don’t know where to place the lancet.
Sometimes, a patient will go for a spot on his or her fingertip and hit nerves. Of course, it will hurt.
The best place to test is along the edges of your fingertips. To find these, put your hands together then press your fingertips together.
Testing here will hurt less because you’re not hitting nerves. And you’re not going to be touching things with them, making it less likely for you to irritate them.
There are some reasons why you may not be getting accurate readings. It could be your glucometer or your glucose testing strips. The cause could also be as simple as not prepping right.
As you know, you should wash your hands and dry them before testing. If you don’t, it could affect your reading.
Let’s say you touched a piece of fruit before drawing blood. Anything that’s on your finger, the test will pick up. This could lead to high readings even if your blood sugar levels are normal.
As mentioned earlier, test strips can be expensive. That’s why some patients try to reuse blood sugar testing supplies.
It’s important to remember though that skimping could be harmful in the long run. Old lancets get dull with time so reusing them will hurt. Expired test strips could result in inaccurate readings.
If funds are a problem, look into companies that buy extra unused unexpired test strips. You could do this if you changed machines and need new types of strips. Or if you’ve switched your health insurance.
Poor Understanding of Results
You can test as many times as possible every day. But if you don’t act on what those results are telling you, you’re only wasting test strips.
For better diabetes control, don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare team. Talk about your results and learn what they mean.
Testing your blood glucose levels shouldn’t be a mindless routine. It should be a way for you to be proactive about managing your diabetes.
You Are In Charge of Your Health
Now that you know more about blood glucose testing times, it should be easier for you to get into a routine.
Don’t forget that questions such as “when should you check your blood sugar?” are an important part of diabetes self-management. The more you arm yourself with knowledge, the more you’re able to control your disease. Always remember that you are more than your diabetes.