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Posted: Saturday, November 1, 2014

The benefits of blood glucose monitoring

If you're among the millions of Americans battling diabetes, then you know how important it is to regularly monitor your blood sugar. Doing so can help keep the disease under control and prevent complications from arising. Still, while many know they need to monitor their blood sugar, not everyone does, and even more have questions about when, where and how to do so.

Program coordinator Dawn Hollaway from Blount Memorial Hospital's Diabetes Management Center reiterates the importance of regularly checking blood glucose levels, but adds how often you should is different for everyone. "How often a patient tests is individualized for each patient based on his or her physician and the medications he or she is taking," Hollaway said. "Patients who are on meal-time insulin need to test four times daily before meals and bedtime, however those who are on oral medications should test their fasting blood sugar twice and again about two hours after each meal. Patients who control their blood sugar without medications still should test at least once daily, rotating between fasting and two hours after meals," she explained. "Generally, we recommend testing on the sides of the fingers, and rotating so you don't get a sore or bruised finger. Fingertips are rich with blood vessels, and blood sugar changes are reflected there immediately, while the forearm and other alternate sites have more muscle and tissue, meaning it takes longer for blood sugar changes to be seen," she added.

Hollaway says there are some ideal ranges to look for when testing blood sugar. "All blood sugar readings are important, but one of your most important numbers is the one you see two hours after a meal," she said. "Typically, a normal fasting blood sugar is below 110, and below 140 for two hours after a meal. If you can keep your postprandial blood sugar below 140, you can lower your risk for heart attacks and strokes, both of which are major concerns for diabetics," she explained.

The best way to track your blood sugar is by using a blood glucose monitor. "Blood glucose monitors are fairly simple to use," Hollaway said. "Most can provide a reading within five seconds. Once you get a reading, you can write down the date, time and reading in your logbook. Some monitor models will keep a history for you, but we still recommend using a logbook because it allows you to make certain notes about specific dates, times and readings," she explained. "Whatever you do, don't just rely on how you feel. You cannot gauge your blood sugar levels accurately enough on your own, so using a monitor is best, and most models can be taken with you wherever you go," she added.

For more information about blood glucose monitors and diabetes in general, join the Blount Memorial Diabetes Management Center on Monday, Nov. 10 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Airport Hilton in Alcoa for the Diabetes and Weight Management Expo.

Blount Memorial executive chef Jeff Counts will host a food demonstration, and bariatric and general surgeon Dr. Onyeka Nwokocha will be the guest speaker for the event. Also, more than 20 vendors will be onsite to answer questions about diabetes and weight management, and there will be door prizes for attendees.

There is no charge for the event, but guests are encouraged to make a $5 donation to the Blount Memorial Diabetes Management Center's fund for underserved and uninsured patients.

For more information or to register, contact diabetes program coordinator Dawn Hollaway today at 865-977-5767 or by email to

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