Hypoglycaemia low blood sugar diabetes
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Regularly tracking blood glucose levels is an indispensable part of a diabetes care plan, especially if you have type 2 diabetes and use insulin. If you know your blood sugar, you can maintain it at the target levels set for you. The best way to do this is to test your blood sugar yourself — commonly known as self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG).

How does regular self-monitoring help?

According to Dr Kinnary Shah, Diabetologist at Shree Eye Clinic (Mumbai), “Self-monitoring of blood sugar levels is very important for people with diabetes who want to reach their targeted blood sugar level goals. As it allows you to observe and determine how certain foods, physical activity, sleep habits, medication, and stress affect your blood glucose levels. This can help you make changes in your lifestyle to better manage your diabetes, and reduce the chances of complications. More importantly, self-monitoring equips you to quickly recognise the signs of hypoglycaemia or severe hyperglycaemia, so you can take immediate steps to treat it.”

How often should you check your blood sugar levels?

You can regularly check your blood sugar levels at home using a glucometer. But when — and how often — to self-monitor varies from individual to individual. The type of diabetes you have, the severity of your condition, the desired target levels, your treatment regime, and your unique needs and goals — all these determine the frequency and timing with which you should track your blood glucose levels.

The American Diabetes Association recommends self-monitoring as follows:

If you are on an intensive insulin regimen: Depending on your individual needs, you may need to check your blood sugar levels as often as 6–10 times every day:

  • Before meals and snacks
  • At bedtime
  • Occasionally after meals (post-prandial)
  • Before and after physical exercise
  • When you suspect your blood glucose is low (hypoglycaemia)
  • After treating low blood glucose until normal levels are achieved
  • Before undertaking critical tasks such as driving

If you have type 2 diabetes, with less intensive insulin therapy:

  • After waking up in the morning
  • Before meals and snacks
  • Before and after physical activity
  • At bedtime

If you are pregnant and have diabetes (gestational diabetes/pre-existing diabetes):

  • Fasting
  • After meals (post-prandial) — this is associated with better blood glucose control and lower risk of preeclampsia (high blood pressure occurring during pregnancy)
  • Before meals (pre-prandial) — especially recommended for women with pre-existing diabetes who use insulin pumps

Once you get the results of your self-monitoring, you should know how to interpret the information, and what actions you need to take in response. Discuss this with your doctor, who will guide you on how often to check and what steps to then take in accordance with your diabetes care plan.

Remember, while routine self-monitoring of blood glucose helps you better manage your diabetes, excessive testing or checking at times other than those recommended by your doctor can increase stress and actually be detrimental. It is important not to become paranoid about your levels being too low or too high.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for patient awareness only. This has been written by qualified experts and scientifically validated by them. Wellthy or it’s partners/subsidiaries shall not be responsible for the content provided by these experts. This article is not a replacement for a doctor’s advice. Please always check with your doctor before trying anything suggested on this article/website.