Keys to Successful Blood Sugar Monitoring
SummaryThe World Health Organization reported that diabetes is one of the primary causes of kidney failure, blindness, and heart attack(1). Recently, aside from the usual blood test, imaging tests, like CT (computed tomography) scan, are considered when it comes to diabetes management and monitoring(2). Early diagnosis of diabetes is crucial to avoid the risk of complications and other diseases associated with it.
- Author Name: Stanley Clark
The World Health Organization reported that diabetes is one of the primary causes of kidney failure, blindness, and heart attack(1).
Recently, aside from the usual blood test, imaging tests, like CT (computed tomography) scan, are considered when it comes to diabetes management and monitoring(2). Early diagnosis of diabetes is crucial to avoid the risk of complications and other diseases associated with it.
Individuals with diabetes are prone to infections due to the immune response dysfunction their condition creates. Thus, aside from ways to lower their blood sugar, individuals who suffer from this disease look for alternative medications to strengthen their immune system.
There were approximately 2.2 million deaths recorded in 2012 due to high blood glucose(3). Hence, strict surveillance of blood sugar is essential to prevent the adverse consequences associated with diabetes.
Tips to Successfully Monitor Blood Sugar
Regular testing of blood sugar can prevent complications. It should be part of a therapy program to keep diabetes in control.
1. Know the Target Range
A healthy sugar range depends on one’s age and current health condition. For example, blood sugar range targets are 80mg/dL to 130mg/dL before eating and less than 180ml/dL two hours after a meal(4).
Knowing these targets can help those with diabetes maintain their healthy blood sugar levels and reduce health risks.
2. Know When to Have Blood Sugar Test
The frequency of testing blood sugar depends on the diabetes type and treatment plan.
Individuals with type 1 diabetes are recommended to monitor blood sugar levels 4 to 10 times a day, especially(5):
- Before meals and snacks
- Before bed
- When administering a new medication
- Before and after a workout
- When a person is sick
Meanwhile, those with type 2 diabetes may be advised to check their blood sugar levels several times a day, based on the amount and type of insulin used(6).
3. Know the Proper Use of the Blood Sugar Meter
Understanding how to use the blood sugar meter properly can help those with diabetes monitor their blood sugar at home.
The blood sugar meter can analyze blood sugar levels with just a kit containing an alcohol swab, test strip, glucose meter, and a lancet device.
A lancet (small needle) is used to prick the skin (usually on a finger) to get a small drop of blood.
When using the blood sugar meter:
- Ensure that hands are washed and sanitized before handling the device.
- With clean hands, wipe one finger with the alcohol swab and wait for it to dry.
- Put the lancet device on the wiped finger and press firmly to release the needle.
- Lightly pinch the finger to let a drop of blood flow.
- Let the test slip touch the blood on the finger.
- Place dry cotton on the punctured finger and wait for the results.
The blood glucose level is indicated on the device. Based on the target range set by the doctor, the meter will determine if blood sugar is at a healthy level.
4. Record Blood Sugar Results
It is crucial to record each blood sugar test result to track the rise or drop of sugar level and adjust the treatment plan appropriately.
Results can be digitally stored on a computer or manually logged on a journal or notebook.
Ensure that information, including the date, time, results, medication, dose, and diet, is recorded accurately. Bring this documentation to the doctor as a reference for future treatment plans and prescriptions.
Kinds of Blood Sugar Tests
Blood sugar monitoring tests vary depending on the doctor’s advice or the patient’s preference.
Here are some blood sugar testing methods that use blood samples to assess the body’s glucose level.
1. Venous (Plasma) Blood Sample
This testing method is done in a hospital or laboratory. Once the blood samples are collected, they will be processed and evaluated in a commercial-grade laboratory by a professional.
The venous blood sample can give accurate blood glucose measurement and is superior to the other testing methods(7). However, this method has a high risk of tissue damage and may be too painful for some patients.
2. Capillary Blood Glucose Test
This glucose test is much more convenient because it allows blood sample collection in alternative sites other than a fingertip.
Capillary blood glucose test also uses smaller blood samples. This method is less painful than a venous blood sample(8), and the test results are known immediately.
3. Continuous Glucose Monitoring
This monitoring method includes a water-resistant patch that is attached to a patient’s upper arm or abdomen. It displays an individual’s glucose levels in the past eight hours.
A continuous glucose monitoring sensor can be attached to a patient’s body for 3 to 14 days(9).
Diagnostic Tests for Diabetes
Glucose Tolerance Test
Results of this test can indicate whether one is in a prediabetic or diabetic stage. It shows blood sugar abnormalities by measuring the body’s response to glucose (sugar).
After fasting overnight, the blood sugar level will be measured before and after glucose intake.
There are one-, two-, and three-hour intervals when checking the blood sugar level after drinking the liquid with glucose.
After two hours, these parameters are checked to see if the blood sugar level is normal or high(10):
- Normal: 140mg/dL or lower
- Pre-diabetic: 140 to 199mg/dL
- Diabetic: 200mg/dL or higher
The A1C test uses blood samples to determine the blood sugar level over the past three months. This test shows the percentage of red blood cells that have sugar-coated hemoglobin.
The blood sugar level is measured based on these parameters(11):
- Normal:7% and below
- Prediabetic: between 5.7% and 6.4%
- Diabetic: 5% and higher
People over 45 years old with normal blood sugar but high-risk factors can repeat the A1C test every three years.
Meanwhile, individuals with prediabetic results may do the test every one or two years, depending on the doctor’s advice.
- World Health Organization, (n.d.), Diabetes, retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
- Barsanti, C., Lenzarini, F., & Kusmic, C. (2015). Diagnostic and prognostic utility of non-invasive imaging in diabetes management. World journal of diabetes, 6(6), 792–806. https://doi.org/10.4239/wjd.v6.i6.792
- World Health Organization, Op. Cit.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (n.d.), Manage Blood Sugar, retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/manage-blood-sugar.html
- The Mayo Clinic, (n.d.), Blood Sugar Testing, retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/blood-sugar/art-20046628
- Mathew TK, Tadi P. Blood Glucose Monitoring. [Updated 2020 Aug 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555976/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (n.d.), Diabetes Tests, retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html