Testing your blood sugar levels on a regular basis and recording the results not only benefits you, it also provides invaluable information for your doctor.

How important is testing your blood sugar levels?How important is testing your blood sugar levels?  Monitoring your blood sugar levels on a regular basis helps one keep control of their diabetes.  Testing provides invaluable data for not only the diabetic but also the attending doctor.  Blood sugar is not constant and goes up and down throughout the day and even during the night, or fasting period.

I asked a friend one time, “How many times to you test in a day?”  He answer with “Hardly ever.  I rely on how I feel and eat accordingly.”

My thoughts were that he was gravely at error in his judgement by managing his diabetes this way.  A week later he went to the hospital with sugar levels above 450.

In order to test properly, you first need to know your target range.

Your doctor will set your personal target blood sugar range. For many people who have diabetes,the acceptable target levels are:

  • Fasting at least eight hours (fasting blood sugar level) — between 90 and 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 5 and 7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
  • Before meals — between 70 and 130 mg/dL (4 and 7 mmol/L)
  • One to two hours after meals — lower than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L)

Target levels can differ.  Age, pregnancy and complications can all play a role in your levels.  The good news is that the closer you are to your target range the better you will feel.

The next thing is to know how to test.

How frequently you test depends on many factors.  Your individual treatment plan outlined by your doctor, how well your blood sugar is controlled and what type of diabetic your are.

Type 1 diabetes.

    Your doctor may recommend blood sugar testing at least three times a day — perhaps before and after certain meals, before and after exercise, and before bed. You may need to check your blood sugar level more often if you’re ill or you change your daily routine.

Type 2 diabetes.

    If you take insulin to manage type 2 diabetes, your doctor may recommend blood sugar testing one to three times a day, depending on the number of insulin doses you take. If you manage type 2 diabetes with other medications or with diet and exercise alone, you may be able to test your blood sugar level less often.

Finally you need to know when to test.

Blood sugar testing requires a blood sugar monitor. Some monitors are large with easy-to-handle test strips, while others are compact and easier to carry. Some monitors track the time and date of each test, the result and trends over time. If you’re unsure which blood sugar monitor is best, ask your doctor or diabetes educator for a recommendation.

To test your blood sugar, follow the instructions that come with your glucose meter. In general, here’s how the process works:

  1. Before pricking your finger, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Then dry them well.
  2. Remove a test strip from the container and replace the cap immediately to prevent damage to the strips.
  3. Insert the test strip into the meter.
  4. Place the tip of the special needle (lancet) on your finger. Stick the side of your finger, not the tip, so that you won’t have sore spots on the part of your finger you use the most.
  5. Hold your hand down to encourage a drop of blood to form. When you have a drop of blood, carefully touch the test strip to the blood (avoid touching your skin with the test strip) and wait for a reading.
  6. Within a few seconds, the meter will display your blood glucose level on a screen.

Your fingertips contain a lot of nerve endings, so make sure to rotate the sites where you stick your fingers. If you have a newer glucose meter, you’ll have the option to test your blood glucose from other sites, such as your forearm or thigh. But check with your doctor or diabetes educator first to find out if alternative site testing is appropriate in your case.

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