The Key to Blood Glucose Monitoring
People with Type 2 diabetes use their blood glucose levels to understand how their diabetes is travelling – both on a daily basis, but also over a number of weeks or months when reviewed in consultation with a health professional.
These checks provide valuable information about how an individual’s blood glucose levels change in response to food, stress, exercise and, if taken, diabetes medications prescribed by a doctor. According to the experts, focusing on blood glucose checks at the right time and in the right frequency is much more beneficial than the number of checks.1
To help understand when and how frequently to check blood glucose levels, we spoke to Credentialled Diabetes Educator, Jayne Lehmann.
Why is it important to measure your blood glucose levels?
The focus of diabetes care is to try and keep blood glucose levels as close to the healthy range as possible across the whole day.
The effect of day-to-day management can be tracked by measuring blood glucose levels at specific times or under certain circumstances.
“These checks show how an individual’s body responds to different types of exercise, like going for a walk versus weight training, or even getting upset or stressed along with the effect of diabetes medication. Food choices can also have a significant effect on blood glucose levels,” Jayne said.
Monitoring blood glucose levels with an at home blood glucose monitor captures a snapshot of what your sugar levels in your blood are doing.
“Checking your blood glucose levels makes it possible to evaluate how different things like exercise and diet are affecting your blood glucose levels.”
The importance of structured monitoring
Each person’s diabetes is different and blood glucose levels change all the time, so the role of a diabetes educator is to help people to customise their blood glucose monitoring to their diabetes and minimise the amount of time a person stays outside of their healthy target range.
“I encourage people to focus on checking blood glucose levels enough to give you enough information to understand how your levels are changing throughout the day. This will help to give you confidence to manage your diabetes day-to-day,” Jayne said.
Studies show that blood glucose levels need to be managed before and two hours after a meal to decrease the risk of small blood vessels being damaged in people with diabetes.2
“Paired testing – a check of the blood glucose level both before and two hours after a meal can help better evaluate impact of meals on diabetes and the effectiveness of medication, if taken,” she said.
To help better manage your condition, Jayne offers her top tips for blood glucose monitoring success.
Tips for blood glucose monitoring success
1. Ensure you look after your diabetes management equipment and discuss the frequency of monitoring with your health care professional
Increased blood glucose monitoring accuracy comes from making sure:
- The strips are in-date and kept air-tight
- You wash your hands before doing a check
- The meter is kept out of very cold and very hot environments
- The meter is used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
To decide how often to monitor and at what times talk to your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator. They will get you set for quality blood glucose monitoring.
Once you have done enough blood glucose monitoring based on the advice of your health care professional, take the results back to your doctor or diabetes educator. Together you will look for patterns in the blood glucose levels across the time you have been checking levels. Once identified, strategies can be put in place to help stabilise your blood glucose levels throughout the day and establish your personalised monitoring schedule
Expert Tip: Know your healthy target levels. Ask the doctor or diabetes educator what your levels should be before and two hours after meals so you can also start to better understand the numbers from your ongoing monitoring.
2. Customise your ongoing monitoring schedule
Your GP or diabetes educator will talk to you about establishing an ongoing monitoring plan to suit your needs. They will consider how the levels are going, any recent changes to your diabetes care and your general health when recommending your monitoring plan.
3. Always keep your blood glucose meter on hand
If you feel unwell or just a bit funny your blood glucose levels could be the problem. Have your meter with you when away from home to quickly check if you need to do so. This takes the guesswork out of diabetes care.
A structured approach to blood glucose monitoring delivers quality information for people with Type 2 diabetes and their health professionals.
“Diabetes is a complex condition, the better you understand your individual responses to different factors, the greater confidence you’ll have over being able to control your condition. This will make it easier for you to have a discussion with the doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator during your next review,” Jayne said.
Jayne Lehmann is a Credentialled Diabetes Educator with over thirty years of experience in the care of people with Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
She has been engaged by Sanofi to provide regular expert commentary for Diabetes-Care. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the view of Sanofi.
- Polonsky, WH, Fisher L, Schikman CH, Hinner DA, Parking CG, Jelsovsky Z, et al A structured self-monitoring of blood glucose approach in Type 2 diabetes encourages more frequent, intensive and effective physician interventions: results from the STeP Study. Diabetes Technol Ther 2011; 13(8). Doi: 10.1089/dia.2011.0073
- 2011 Guideline for Management of PostMeal Glucose in Diabetes Brussels: IDF, 2011