Checking In With Your Blood Glucose

My patients often ask, “how many times a day should I test my blood glucose?” I always have an answer, but first I like to change the context of the question – I do not like to use the word “test.” “Test” inevitably indicates a pass or fail. But, if we use the word “check” – “checking” our blood glucose levels” – it gives a more accurate description of our purpose. We are getting information to help us make an informed decision on our blood glucose control – checking in to see how our blood glucose is reacting to various behaviors like eating, stress, sleep, or activity, to name a few.

Checking our blood glucose often helps us manage our diabetes. For example, if you only check before breakfast you only get a snap shot of your reading overnight. But, what about the rest of your day? Imagine that over a whole week you have each day’s blood glucose readings before meals, and two hours after eating. You could compare your results to the ADA target ranges (80-130 mg/dl before meals and 180 mg/dl or less two hours after eating), and look for clues both for on-target and off-target readings. You might also check before and after exercise to see how your physical activity routine effects your blood glucose. The point is, make checking your blood glucose an investigation. Sometimes there aren’t explanations for what you find, but often there are clear patterns.

Once you have a good overview of how your readings run through the day, check with your doctor and diabetes educator on how often you should check. If you are able to get enough testing strips, check three to four times per day, and even more when your blood glucose levels have shown a pattern of high or low readings. Always check often when you’re not feeling well too. The more data you have, the easier it is to make adjustments for better blood glucose management.

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