Diabetes is a serious health condition that occurs due to the inefficiency of the pancreas to create insulin or when the human body is incapable of using the insulin it secretes. Insulin is a hormone that helps the muscles, liver, and fat to absorb glucose present in the blood.
1. What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that happens when your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or when your body isn’t reacting to insulin properly.
A diabetic person needs to take absolute precautions in their daily life to control their blood sugar levels. A slight change in lifestyle may lead to sudden alterations in blood sugar levels. It may cause hyperglycemia (rise in blood sugar level) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels).
Diabetes can be controlled by taking regular medication, certified diabetes care, making healthy lifestyle choices, proper diet, and regular exercising.
There are three common types of diabetes:
1.1. Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is when the immune system can’t differentiate between healthy cells and problematic antigens. It attacks healthy cells of the pancreas that create insulin.
1.2. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is when the human body is incapable of using insulin efficiently. This results in more production of insulin from the pancreas until it is unable to satisfy the demand.
1.3. Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when insulin-blocking hormones are produced.
2. Symptoms of Diabetes
Here are some signs to know you’re suffering from diabetes:
1. Feeling thirsty all the time
2. Feeling tired all the time
3. Loss of weight
4. Feeling exhausted
5. Constant urge to urinate
6. Constant mood swings
7. Slow-healing sores
Note: Please keep in mind that in type 2 diabetes, the signs are barely noticeable in the beginning. It may take a few years for you to notice.
3. How Often Do Diabetics Check Glucose?
Here are some basic guidelines for monitoring the blood glucose levels:
3.1. Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes needs to monitor the blood sugar level before meals and before going to bed. It’s advisable to check the glucose even during the night. Hence, a type 1 diabetic patient needs to check blood sugar levels several times a day to effectively control blood sugar levels.
People taking insulin dosages need frequent monitoring as the dosage needs further adjustments based on the blood sugar level.
3.2. Type 2 Diabetes
Blood sugar readings in type 2 diabetes depend on the type of treatment, medication, and the level of blood sugar control. Some need to check two times a day while others need to check several times a day. It’s important to consult the doctor to learn more about your treatment plan.
3.3. Gestational Diabetes
Pregnant women should check their diabetes many times a day, typically before and after having meals. A pregnant woman needs a continuous glucose monitor to manage diabetes.
Note: Kindly consult your healthcare professional or a diabetes educator to know more about monitoring the glucose level as there is a specific diabetes management plan according to your needs.
4. How to Check Glucose?
Glucose can easily be monitored by using a blood sugar monitoring device called a glucometer. Here are some steps for blood sugar testing with the help of a blood glucose meter:
Step 1. First and foremost, wash your hands properly before touching the device.
Step 2. Make sure the glucometer is in working condition and the selected test strip isn’t expired.
Step 3. Carefully insert the test strip into the glucometer. Go through the packaging instructions once before inserting.
Step 4. Put the lancet into the lancet device.
Step 5. Clean the fingertip before taking the sample. Prick the fingertip using the lancet device. A small amount of blood will ooze out.
Step 6. Place the end of the test strip on the punctured fingertip until the meter shows that it has gathered enough blood for a reading. The glucometer will instantly display the blood glucose level on the screen.
Step 7: Dispose of the lancet and the used test strip. Turn off the blood sugar meter and store it in its designated place.
5. Things to Keep in Mind Before Testing Glucose
Here is a list of all the important things to keep in mind before testing your blood sugar level:
Hygiene always comes first. It is advisable to wash your hands properly and later use a good quality hand sanitizer to eliminate any kind of bacteria.
5.2. Site Preparation
Always make sure to use a well-perfused fingertip so that accuracy can be maintained in checking glucose. Always use sterile alcohol to clean the selected area. It is important to pick different fingers so that pain and calluses can be minimized.
5.3. Proper Equipment
Before monitoring your glucose level, it is important to make sure that the pieces of equipment (test strips and glucometer) are in good working condition. Otherwise, the results will not be accurate.
5.4. Keeping a Record
Monitor and maintain the records for glucose readings. These readings will be used by your healthcare supervisor to analyze your blood glucose. These recordings will help them to customize your treatment plan, examine the efficiency of the prescribed medicine, and also provide you with the necessary feedback so that you can make better lifestyle choices. Constant record-keeping is highly crucial for diabetes management.
Adjust the settings of the glucometer accurately by reading the instruction manual before proceeding with testing blood sugar. This will result in accurate blood glucose readings.
Manufacturers nowadays offer calibration codes or chips with every batch of test strips so that the test strips can be easily calibrated with the meter. Proper calibration ensures accurate and reliable readings so that you can easily manage your diabetes.
Always make sure to match the codes provided with the test strips to leave no room for inaccuracy. In case you manage to get the wrong readings, then it’s all pointless.
What temperature you keep your test strips at plays a vital role in their proper functioning. The intense temperature can affect the readings of blood sugar. So, kindly store them as instructed in the packaging.
It’s extremely important to stick to the specific time your medical health professional recommended you to check your blood sugar. Timing is necessary for monitoring glucose levels in diabetes management as it tells you how your body reacts to different conditions.
5.8.1. Fasting Blood Glucose Level
Fasting blood sugar is when you check your glucose level immediately after waking up, on an empty stomach. This reading serves as a basis and helps analyze the control of your body’s blood sugar at night.
5.8.2. Before Meals
Checking glucose before having your meals helps to maintain the necessary diet you need for diabetes management. According to the American Diabetes Association, it should be 70–130 mg/dl before meal.
5.8.3. After Meals
Checking glucose one to two hours after having your meal helps you to analyze how your body reacts to carbohydrates. This reading helps health professionals to manage the rise in blood sugar after meals. According to the American Diabetes Association, it should be less than 180 mg/dl after the meal.
5.8.4. Before and After Exercise
You should also test your blood sugar level before and after any physical exercise so that you can manage the irregular shift in your blood sugar level. It also helps you to make necessary adjustments in your daily exercise routine according to your diabetic needs.
5.8.5. Before Sleeping
It is necessary to check your glucose level before sleeping to help you get the hang of how your glucose level is affected at night. It becomes really important to check blood sugar before going to bed for a person suffering from Hypoglycemia.
5.8.6. Random Checks
It is also advisable to make random blood sugar checks in a day as anxiety and stress sometimes lead to low blood sugar.
Closely follow the instructions given by your healthcare professionals and don’t delay your medications. It will effectively control your blood sugar level.
5.10. Stress and Exercise
Anxiety and physical activity may indicate a fluctuation in your blood glucose trends. Therefore, it is advisable to check your blood sugar after a particular event or exercise.
Sickness can also have a major impact on your blood sugar level. Hence, it becomes extremely important to keep track of your blood sugar when sick as your blood sugar might take an unnecessary shift during that time.
You should regularly keep track of your blood sugar. It will help medical professionals to introduce effective ways to maintain your blood sugar level.
Always follow a healthy diet. It’s important to stay away from foods that lead to blood sugar fluctuations.
6.Keeping Yourself Healthy
While there are more effective and advanced methods of glucose testing nowadays, you should always monitor your glucose to keep your blood sugar regularly. A glucometer should be in perfect working condition to maintain the accuracy of testing. At the end of the day, your health matters the most and it is solely in your hands.