Diabetes is perhaps, one of the only medical conditions that require the person to actively be a part of the treatment methodology, via monitoring. And it isn’t a onetime affair either. If you have diabetes, then you will be expected to periodically (multiple times a day) monitor your blood sugar and analyze the results to know whether you need professional assistance or your numbers are still on the right side of ‘manageable’.
And you will most likely be using a blood sugar monitor, also known as a glucometer, to measure your blood sugar or at work. You can check out online reviews to help find the best glucometer depending on your particular needs.
Your healthcare professional will guide you on how to use the device as well as an average number to watch out for in the readings. But for someone who’s newly been diagnosed, it does take some getting used to considering that pricking your fingers to draw out a minuscule drop of blood for the rest of your life doesn’t seem too exciting nor motivating.
So, here’s a small guide to help you understand the ‘ifs’, the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ associated with blood sugar monitoring starting with the most obvious question.
Important Note: Notwithstanding any of the information in this article consult your doctor on the use of this device, and how it can be used to monitor your personal health situation. Also, consult the instructions and warnings for your particular device.
Why it is crucial to monitor
Diabetes management may solely be through dietary and lifestyle changes or may involve the use of medication or even insulin. However, it is critical to monitor the blood sugar constantly to know whether the therapy is indeed effective or it needs to be modified.
For example, blood sugar numbers can rise significantly or plummet (hypoglycemia) with slight changes to the diet or due to missed doses of medicine. If the numbers go undetected and you continue the current lifestyle, it can lead to an emergency situation much sooner than you’d imagine.
On the other hand, constant monitoring keeps you informed and aware of what choices you have at hand. If the medication is causing your blood sugar levels to go too low, the dosage may be lowered to adjust.
If you rely mainly on diet and exercise and the numbers are increasing, then you may need to increase physical activity to help keep it in check.
How often do you need to monitor?
That’s the biggest conundrum that people face. With insurance companies covering only two to three test strips per day for someone with Type II diabetes, people often avoid testing too many times because of the added expense of the strips.
However, if your diabetes is not in check, then checking two times a day does not provide you with sufficient actionable data. The only option you have to is to spend a little extra out of your own pocket or ask your doctor for a prescription for additional test strips to see if your insurance covers it.
Ideally, most experts recommend that anyone with Type I diabetes should check their blood sugar levels at least 6 times a day. That number reduces to four times for Type II diabetes.
If you are not monitoring your blood sugar due to the cost of the strips, you may be interested to know the glucometers with the cheapest test strips. Do check our recommendations over here.
Is it painful to prick your fingers every day?
Pain is subjective. But many people who test everyday claim to have their own secret tricks to make it less painful. Some, prick on the side of the fingers near the nails while others prick the thumb due to the extra calluses which helps to reduce pain. Others just grit their teeth and get on with it. Some claim to manage because there’s no other choice.
But, as a rule of thumb, if it’s the pain that’s stopping you from testing your blood sugar, there are ways in which you can reduce it.
• Never prick on the tip of the finger because there will be more nerve endings and hence, more pain
• Pinch the area to create a sealed patch of skin that will be less painful
• Never use alcohol before you prick to desensitize the skin because, in the long run, it will dry out the skin and make it more painful
• You have 10 fingers. So use all of them rather than using the same finger each day.
• Ensure that you use a new lancet and not a blunt one.
• After the prick, don’t squeeze hard to remove blood. Just hold your hands below your waist and the blood should slowly ooze out.
• Invest in a blood glucose monitor that takes the least amount of blood. You can find one right over here.
Know your glucometer
It is crucial that you know the blood glucose monitor well before you use it. This will help you to prevent mistakes that can cause false readings. Take some time to read the instruction manual carefully and be aware of the features.
Does the device require coding? If yes, then be aware of the right codes to ensure that you don’t end up with false readings.
Is the blood sample sufficient to get an accurate reading? Many blood glucose monitors can throw up a false reading due to the sample size being insufficient.
Most blood glucose monitors contain a test solution which helps you determine if the monitor is showing accurate results. Just use a small drop of the test solution on a strip and insert it into the monitor. The reading that the monitor shows should match the amount of glucose in the test solution. Doing this periodically ensures that the monitor is still showing accurate results.
The other way to test would be to take a random blood sugar test and then compare it with one done at a healthcare center.
If your meter allows you to download the average readings for a specific time period and use it with data management software, then it makes it easier for you to send those numbers to your doctor. Otherwise, you’d have to write down the readings to keep track of the data over a period of time.