How to learn the correct way to test your blood sugar levels at home.
Merry Christmas and wish you all a very Happy Healthy New Year!!! During the holiday season especially during festival times, diabetic people wonder what their sugar levels are and what they can do to keep it in control. Lots of people have sugar test machine doubts if their levels are normal. Some of the questions that people have asked me are:
- What should my blood sugar level be most of the time?
- How often should I test it?
- What is the HbA1C blood sugar test and how often should I test that?
- Is there any particular time of the day that I should test it?
- Is there anything else that I should know about blood sugar testing?
My answer to them is, “Learn to measure your blood sugar levels correctly”
How do you do that?
First buy a glucometer. Secondly, after you have a glucometer. You need to learn how to use it correctly. It is a machine and if used wrongly, it will give wrong results. In my experience what you should do is read the booklet that came with the machine. Next take the glucometer along with you for your next appointment and ask your doctor to show you how to use it. After that you show the doctor the procedure that you follow and ask if you are doing it correctly. If you are making any mistakes your doctor can correct you.
The importance of an HbA1C test
Now that you know how to check your sugar levels correctly, let me tell you the basics regarding the HbA1c blood test.
How often should this test be done? This test is usually done once in 3 months for diabetics
What is the use of doing this test? It tells your doctor and you the average blood sugar level during the past three months.
One of my patients had asked me this question. “Why should I do this test? I check my blood sugar every week. “This was my answer: Just because your fasting blood sugar and post prandial levels are normal does not mean that your diabetes in well in control. What I have seen among my patients is that for few days just before the blood test they eat correctly and when the test report is seen, the levels are almost normal. But when I do the HbA1C test for them it shows a high value. This means that most of the “other” time my patients have high sugar levels. Similarly your doctor and you need to know if this is what happens in your case and your treatment needs to change depending on such a result, or tomorrow a diabetes complication could occur and both your doctor and you will wonder why this happened to you.
When and How often to test your blood sugar levels at home
The next step is to know when and how often you need to test. This depends on various factors and your doctor is the best person to tell you how often you need to test your sugar levels. Newly diagnosed diabetics and diabetics who are not under control may have to test:
- Fasting for at least 8 hours (Before Breakfast)
- 1-2 Hours After Breakfast
- Before Lunch
- 1-2 Hours After Lunch
- Before Dinner
- 1-2 Hours After Dinner
- Bedtime3 A.M. (in some conditions)
I have just mentioned the maximum that a person whom I would treat might have to test in one day. In such cases I usually ask them to get admitted and have a lovely nurse do the testing. But on average my patients are asked to test three to four times a day till their sugar levels are in control then I ask them to test once a day. But there are some conditions where you should test more often than normal. Situations where your doctor might want you to check your sugar levels more frequently:
- If your diabetes medicine changes
- If you begin taking other kinds of medicines
- If you change your diet
- If your exercise routine or activity level changes
- If your level of stress increases
- If you are sick.
When you are sick, even without eating, your sugar levels may run high, so testing is important. Continue testing more often until you have maintained your blood sugar levels for at least 1 week, or until your doctor advises you that more frequent testing is no longer necessary.
Dr Sherry Chandy is a Medical Domain Specialist at Yos Technologies.
He is a medical doctor and ophthalmologist by profession with special interests in enabling better health care through the use of information technology.