Glucose Monitoring for Diabetes

Monitoring your blood sugar levels (glucose levels) is one of the most important steps you can take for managing diabetes.

Glucose Monitor

Elevated blood sugar levels that remain high over months and years increases your chances of developing serious medical conditions, including:

  • eye problems (diabetic retinopathy)
  • nerve problems (diabetic neuropathy)
  • kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy)
  • heart disease
  • and other diabetes-related conditions.

Keeping your blood glucose close to normal increases your chances of remaining healthy.

To control your diabetes, you need to know your blood glucose numbers and your target goals.

The blood glucose test you do yourself uses a drop of blood and a glucose meter that measures the level of glucose in your blood at the time you do the test.

Why should I check my blood glucose?

Self monitoring of your blood glucose helps you see how food, physical activity, and medicine affect your blood glucose levels. The readings you get can help you manage your diabetes day by day or even hour by hour.

Keep a record of your test results and review it at each visit with your health care team.

Glucose Meter with Strip

You prick the skin to produce a tiny drop of blood that is placed onto a paper or plastic "strip" and inserted into the glucose monitor. Be sure you know how to perform the test correctly.

Ask your health care team whether your meter gives the results as plasma or whole blood glucose. Most new meters provide the results as plasma glucose.

What are reasonable goals?

Set your personal blood glucose level goals with your doctor and health care team.

Some general guidelines used for many people with diabetes are:

Plasma values

  • Before meals: 90 – 130
  • 1 to 2 hours after meals: less than 180

Whole blood values

  • Before meals: 80 – 120
  • 1 to 2 hours after meals: less than 170

How often should I check my blood glucose?

Self-tests are usually done before meals, after meals, and/or at bedtime. People who take insulin usually need to test more often than those who do not take insulin.

Ask your health care team when and how often you need to check your blood glucose.

If I test my own blood glucose, do I still need the A1C test?

Yes. The results of both your blood glucose tests and hemoglobin A1C test help you and your health care team to manage your diabetes and get a complete picture of your diabetes control.

Does my insurance pay for the A1C test, self-testing supplies, and education?

Most states have passed laws that require insurance coverage of blood glucose monitoring supplies and diabetes education. Check your coverage with your insurance plan. Medicare covers most of the cost of diabetes test strips, lancets (needles used to get a drop of blood), and blood glucose meters for people who have diabetes.

What other numbers do I need to know to control my diabetes?

People with diabetes are at high risk for heart attack and stroke. That is why people with diabetes need to control their blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as their blood glucose levels.

Take control of your blood glucose: points to remember

  1. Talk to your health care team about your blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C goals.
  2. Ask your health care team what your A1C number is, what it means, what it should be, and what you need to do to reach your A1C goal.
  3. Check your own blood glucose as often as needed and go over the results at each visit with your doctor and health care team.
  4. To keep your blood glucose under control, eat the right foods in the right amounts. Get regular physical activity as advised by your health care team.
  5. Take your diabetes medicines that have been prescribed for you.
  6. Ask your health care team about your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and what your goals should be.

Reference: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Related Topics

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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