How to Monitor Blood Glucose
How to Help Your Loved One Monitor Blood Glucose
Why should someone with type 2 diabetes montitor her blood glucose?
If someone with type 2 diabetes controls her blood glucose, she's more likely to feel her best, stay healthy, and prevent or delay diabetes complications. To keep within her target range she'll need to monitor her blood sugar on a regular basis.
Over the past few decades, self-monitoring devices have transformed diabetes self-care. Results are instantaneous, and the information helps you and the person you're caring for figure out whether she needs to change her diet, get more exercise, or ask the doctor whether her medications need adjusting. A high or low reading alerts you and her to potential problems as well.
1. How does she monitor it?
Self-monitoring of blood glucose requires a portable glucose meter, a small, battery-operated device. It's used to check blood sugar on a regular basis in order to maintain levels that are as close to normal as possible.
2. Why should she check her blood glucose?
In the long term, keeping blood glucose under control -- ideally between 90 and 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) before a meal and under 180 mg/dl after a meal -- can help her prevent or delay diabetes complications, such as nerve, eye, kidney, heart, and blood vessel damage. In the short term, maintaining glucose levels in her target range can help her stave off problems such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Testing regularly and recording the results helps the person you're caring for and the members of her healthcare team get a good sense of her body's response to her diabetes treatment plan, helps uncover trends that reveal which drugs, exercise regimens, and diet work and which don't, and lets her know how her body is affected by food, activity, stress, medications, and other variables.
Regular testing is the only way to know if her blood glucose level is within her recommended range. This information can help her make day-to-day decisions about managing her blood sugar and alert her to potential emergency situations. In short: The tighter her glucose control, the healthier she's likely to be.
3. How does she check her blood sugar?
- Getting a blood sample To test for glucose in the blood with a typical glucose meter -- a small digital machine that measures the amount of glucose in someone with diabetes's blood -- a small sample of blood is taken from her fingertip via a pen-style, spring-loaded tube into which she puts a needle, known as a lancet. A dial on the lancet allows her to choose how deeply the needle enters her skin.
- Using the test strip Before using the lancet the person you're caring for should wash her hands with soap and dry them. To avoid sore spots on the pads of her fingers, she should stick the side of her fingertip by her fingernail. The blood drop is then placed on a disposable test strip. With most meters, this strip slides into the glucose meter before the blood is applied to a specific area on the strip, which is coated with chemicals that combine with the glucose in the blood sample. The meter displays the glucose level as a number on a screen. Obtaining a reading typically takes less than a minute.
- Keeping a log She should then make a note of this number in her blood sugar log. Although many meters store the results, it's still a good idea to keep a written record to look for patterns.
- Learning to use the meter Not all meters work the same way. So it's important for you and the person you're caring for to learn how to use her glucose-monitoring device correctly and, equally important, how to interpret its results. Both of you also need to know how to calibrate the meter or set it correctly for each new batch of test strips she uses. You and she should get training from a certified diabetes educator, who will watch you both test for glucose and calibrate the meter to make sure you're using the equipment correctly. Be sure to read the manufacturers' instructions as well.
- Solving problems Keep the user manual in a handy place to help solve any problems that may arise. Many meters, for instance, display error codes when there's a problem with the meter, test strip, or blood sample. You may need to refer to the manual to interpret these codes to remedy the situation. Further information on her meter should be available through the toll-free manufacturer number or from her primary healthcare provider, diabetes educator, or local emergency room. Meter manufacturers usually have a website, which is also a good place to check to see if any issues with the function of the meter have arisen.
- Buying supplies Testing strips and lancets are available via prescription. Meters can be found at pharmacies or online by searching for blood glucose monitor, or her healthcare provider may give her one.
- Using other devices Less commonly, continuous glucose monitoring is possible through a watch-like device worn on the wrist or a sensor that's continuously worn on the abdomen connected to a catheter under the person's skin. These devices don't replace finger-prick tests; they're used to obtain additional glucose measurements between regular testing.