The glucometer is the best way to observe and track the immediate effects of your food choices, physical activity and other changes to your blood glucose. It helps you to take further action to bring your blood glucose back to the target range recommended by your doctor. Optimal blood glucose control is essential to prevent diabetes complications. Your blood sugar level undergoes alteration during the day, especially after a meal. Hence, monitoring your blood glucose levels at the right time helps in better management of diabetes.
While there is no standard number of measurements that apply to people with diabetes. Unless otherwise indicated, you must generally monitor your blood glucose levels 1 to 4 times a day and this time is based on several factors. The general plan for monitoring BG levels at home is:
- Early morning (fasting);
- before meals (lunch and dinner);
- about 90-120 minutes from the moment you started eating (post-prandial blood sugar);
- the evening before bedtime;
- before insulin administration;
- when you have the feeling that your sugar levels have spiked.
Type 1 Diabetes
Frequency and time: The frequency and time of home blood glucose checks can vary depending on the individual’s goals, but people with type 1 diabetes are required:
- at least 4 checks a day, in routine conditions;
- The effect of the carbohydrates taken should be checked 1 or 2 hours after a meal.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus in conventional or mixed insulin therapy
People with Type 2 diabetes need to monitor blood sugar levels at different times of the day to verify the achievement of the glycemic goals programmed with your doctor and to prevent or detect asymptomatic hypoglycemic episodes.
Frequency and time: The number of daily checks required, under normal conditions, is related to the number of daily administrations of insulin.
The number of daily blood glucose checks is generally higher at the beginning of therapy or at the time of its variations and tends to decrease over time with the achievement of the desired and stable blood glucose values. However, people with type 2 diabetes are desirable to conduct:
- weekly routine profile of at least 4 checks;
- up to 2 checks per day in the presence of high risk of hypoglycemia or potentially serious complications of hypoglycemia (coronary artery disease, cerebral vasculopathy, retinopathy);
According to Dr Tejal Lathia, Consultant Endocrinologist, Fortis and Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, “The most common mistake most people with diabetes mellitus make is to test only their fasting blood sugar. The fluctuations after meals also contribute to HBA1C and thus, impact the risk of complications. Testing sugars at 3 am are also very important for people taking bedtime insulin.”
In special cases, such as illnesses, stress, significant changes in usual physical activity, significant dietary changes and medication taking effect on blood sugar, it is advisable to increase the frequency of glycemic measurements. This applies for people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Here’s an overview of when to check your blood glucose levels and the course of action it may require.
When to Test
What to Look For
|First thing when you wake up before eating or drinking||How did your body / treatment regulate your blood sugar level during the night?|
|Before each meal||How effective is your dose of diabetes treatment between meals?|
How should you adjust your food choices (carbohydrates) and portions for the meal?
|2 hours after meals||What is the effect of food and / or medication on your blood sugar?|
|Before a physical activity||Should we shift or postpone physical activity?|
Do you need to have a snack before you start exercising?
|During and after physical activity||How does physical activity affect your blood sugar?|
Does your activity have a delayed effect on your blood glucose?
|Before bedtime||Do you need a snack before going to bed?|
|According to the recommendations of your health professional||According to the recommendations of your health professional|
It isn’t just about testing your blood sugar readings at the right time, it is about keeping a log of it. So start logging your blood glucose levels each time you check it and get a clear understanding about what’s working to keep your blood sugar levels under control.