If you’re living with diabetes, you already know the challenges that come with a diabetes diagnosis. One of the biggest lifestyle changes you’ll have to make is the frequent monitoring of your glucose or blood sugar. It’s not only critical to your ongoing care, but it also can help you learn how various foods, medications, stressors and forms of exercise affect your readings. In short, when you’re diagnosed with diabetes, your glucose meter is akin to a new best friend who should go with you just about everywhere. It may sound tedious, but regular blood sugar monitoring could save your life.
Diabetes education coordinator and registered nurse Dawn Hollaway from East Tennessee Medical Group says diabetics definitely need to become close pals with their meters and check their blood sugar levels daily. “Diabetics need to carry their meter with them at all times, along with test strips, lancets to stick their fingers and control solution,” Hollaway said. “But, it’s not enough to simply have these items with you; you also need to know how to use them. Basically, you’ll begin by washing your hands thoroughly, then sticking the side of your finger – not the center – with your lancet. Next, you’ll follow your meter’s instructions for inserting the test strip and then place a drop of blood onto it for testing. The meter will display the reading for you. You’ll then discard the used lancet and any insulin syringes, preferably using a dark-colored plastic container such as a detergent bottle or milk jug. This will prevent accidental contact or needle sticks,” she explained. “Most lancets are recommended for one-time use, but some can be used more than once if necessary. Still, you’ll definitely want to change them at least every other day. Remember, too, that most health insurance plans will cover meters and supplies with a physician’s prescription, but you will want to check with your insurance company to verify your specific coverage,” she added.
Hollaway says there are other tips about glucose monitoring that you shouldn’t ignore. “Glucose meters do not need to be left in the car due to potential temperature changes that can alter its effectiveness,” she said. “Patients also should keep a log of their blood sugar readings. Most meters typically can store between 250 and 400 readings in the device’s history, but when patients log numbers into their logbook, it gives them the opportunity to make notes and explain any numbers that are out of their typical range. This information also will be very beneficial to your physician if you have to have any of your medications changed,” she explained.
“The number of times you’ll need to monitor will depend upon the diabetes medications you’re taking,” Hollaway continued. “If you’re taking oral diabetes medications, you will need to monitor two times daily, rotating between fasting blood sugar and two hours after you eat a meal. If you don’t take medication to control your blood levels, you’ll likely only need to monitor one time each day, alternating between one day checking your fasting level and the other your level two hours after meals. Finally, if you’re on sliding scale or meal-time insulin, you’ll want to check your blood sugar four times daily, which means before meals and before bedtime,” she explained.