Reducing Diabetes Complications with Blood Sugar Monitoring
Diabetes can easily lead to serious complications if it is not regularly monitored.
Thankfully, increased awareness of the condition, as well as the availability of different diabetes monitoring systems, have enabled more diabetics to live happier, healthier lives with far fewer complications that can cause serious illnesses.
One of the most effective ways of reducing diabetes complications is through blood sugar monitoring.
This article explains what blood sugar monitoring is and how it can be administered to help you reduce diabetes complications today and in the future.
What is Blood Sugar Monitoring?
As mentioned already, blood sugar monitoring is a very important part of diabetes care and management.
Blood sugar monitoring is normally self-administered, to allow you to manage the condition daily on your own. It can either be done through using a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor.
Why is it important to test your blood sugar?
Diabetes is a disease that is caused by excessive blood sugar levels in your body, often requiring boosts of insulin (a hormone normally produced by the pancreas) to regulate the sugar levels by converting glucose from food into energy for the body.
Monitoring sugar levels are particularly important for patients with diabetes.
It is a preventative measure that can help you manage the condition in the following ways:
- Monitor the impact of various medications for diabetes on blood sugar levels (the effect of medicines can different for different people)
- Easily identify higher or lower blood sugar levels
- Enable the tracking progress when seeking to reach an overall treatment milestone
- Provide insight on how diet and exercise affect blood sugar levels so that those with the condition can make lifestyle changes where necessary
- Shines a light on how other lifestyle factors such as stress, anxiety or illness can affect blood sugar levels
When should blood sugar levels be tested?
The regularity in which you should test your blood sugar levels depends on which type of diabetes you have. You should also seek this sort of medical plan with the advice of a physician.
However, to familiarize yourself with the suggestions, here are a few guidelines:
Type 1 Diabetes
A doctor could recommend monitoring blood sugar anywhere between 4-10 times a day.
Examples of when you may need to test blood sugar levels include:
- Before eating or snacking
- Before and after any rigorous exercise
- Before sleeping
- Sometimes during the night
- More frequent tests when ill
- More tests if your daily routine has changed from the standard
- More tests if you have started a new cycle of medication
Type 2 Diabetes
Blood sugar testing for type 2 diabetes is often less rigorous compared to type 1.
If you are taking insulin to manage the condition, your doctor may advise blood sugar testing several times throughout the day.
The number of times will depend on the amount and regularity of insulin you take to regulate your blood sugar levels.
For those having multiple insulin injections, you may be asked to test blood sugar levels before eating and before sleeping. Those on intermediate insulin or long-acting insulin may only need to test blood sugar levels a couple of times a day.
If you manage type 2 diabetes without any insulin injections but through diet or exercise regimes, it’s unlike that your doctor requires daily blood sugar testing.
How do you test your blood sugar level?
As previously mentioned, there are two main forms of testing blood sugar levels: using either a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or a blood sugar meter.
Using a CGM
A CGM is one of the newest forms of monitoring blood sugar levels.
It is a device with a sensor that lies beneath the skin which transmits a signal to a display device. One device can be used for up to 3 months before needing a replacement.
The advantage of this monitoring system is that although you will always have to have the device fitted to you, there is no need for having to draw blood to test your sugar levels. There are two types of CGM devices, some which provide instantaneous results and others that provide retrospective results.
There are a few complications to being fitted with a CGM. It is recommended that you read diabetes health management policies of different health care plans to ensure that you are eligible.
Using a Blood Sugar Meter or Fingerprick
Before the introduction of CGM to the healthcare market, blood sugar testing has been mostly administered through a blood sugar meter.
A blood sugar meter assesses blood sugar levels through the use of a sample of blood taken from your fingertip. The sample of blood is then put on a disposable test strip.
Importantly, even if you use CGM to assess your blood sugar levels, most will still require at least one daily use of a fingerprick to calibrate the CGM device.
There is a simple 5-step process advised by Mayo Clinic to using a blood sugar meter:
- Thoroughly wash and dry your hands as any interfering substance can affect the reading
- Insert the test strip into the meter
- Use the needle in the test kit to prick your finger to draw blood
- To ensure blood is drawn, hold the edge of the test strip
- After a few seconds, the display on the blood sugar meter will reveal your blood sugar level
Following the advice of regular blood sugar monitoring is crucial for those with diabetes to prevent any complications caused by the disease. Such complications can include heart disease, blindness, kidney disease or nerve damage. People with diabetes are naturally more at risk to these diseases and the disease must be regulated through blood sugar monitoring in the different ways outlined in this article.
If you are unsure about anything to do with blood sugar monitoring, do consult your doctor before taking any further action.
While it may seem an inconvenience to your daily life to monitor anywhere between 4-10 times a day, regular blood sugar monitoring will ultimately save lives by preventing the chances of contracting life-threatening diseases.