Many people with diabetes may think that performing regular tests to determine blood sugar levels is a waste of their time, but determining the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood is very important to your health.
Charles Barron, M.D., ACCESS Regional Medical Director, answers some questions about diabetes testing and has provided some helpful tips for monitoring your glucose levels.
1. Why do I need to test my blood's glucose level?
Monitoring your blood's glucose level will allow you to determine if it's too low or too high. Low blood glucose—called hypoglycemia—can result in everything from drowsiness and hunger, to seizures and unconsciousness. High blood glucose—known as hyperglycemia—can cause nausea, shortness of breath and diabetic coma. Additionally, regular testing and documentation of your glucose levels can allow you and your doctor to note fluctuations and determine a possible illness or a need to change your medication or diet.
2. What affects my blood's glucose level?
Your blood's glucose level can be affected by what you eat, medications you take, physical activity and your insulin intake.
3. How often do I need to check my blood's glucose level?
Typically people with type 1 diabetes check their blood glucose levels between four to eight times a day—before eating, before and after exercise, before bed and sometimes, during the night. People with type 2 diabetes may test at least twice a day, or more, depending on their insulin intake. Regardless of the type of diabetes you have, it's important that you consult with your doctor when determining how often you should test your blood glucose levels.
4. How does ACCESS recommend I test my blood sugar?
Your doctor can provide you with a glucose meter to use according to the method for testing your blood sugar that's right for you.
5. How do I talk to my child about testing his or her blood sugar?
Children are naturally apprehensive about the process of testing their blood's glucose level. There are a number of steps you can take to help ease the process of testing.
Let your child know that it's OK to be bothered by the tests, but that it is necessary to keep them in the best shape possible.
Explain the testing process in their terms. For example, you can explain how glucose testing can keep them big and strong, and help them do all of the fun things they have planned.
Never "negotiate" with your child to limit the number of tests you give him or her. While you may feel as though you're helping your child, giving fewer tests than your doctor recommends can result in unhealthy outcomes.
By being informed and following your doctor's recommended glucose testing regimen, you can live a full life, despite your diabetes diagnosis. ACCESS doctors can provide you with a personalized assessment of your diabetes care and ensure that you're monitoring your diabetes as needed. Click here to schedule an appointment. You also can learn more about managing diabetes through ACCESS' free diabetes education classes. Click here for the class schedule.