Views You Can Use - Pairing Blood Glucose Readings

I wonder if I could convince you to check your blood glucose levels more often? I know – you’re thinking less often would be more like the suggestion you would prefer to hear from me, but let me try and convince you.

People with type 1 diabetes check blood glucose levels often. Some days I might check ten or twelve times, and there are two reasons this is the case. The first reason is to recognize and “treat” low and high blood glucose levels. The second reason is that we have the ability to “treat” high blood glucose levels immediately with insulin.

People with type 2 diabetes who are not taking insulin do not have a way to “treat” high blood glucose levels immediately. In other words, you don’t have an “action plan” when you see your blood glucose level is 300 mg/dl. That can be frustrating for you, and can make the blood glucose testing seem useless. In fact, debates in Canada about reimbursing costs for test strips argue that test strips have “limited clinical benefit” for many people with type 2 diabetes. It’s an argument that focuses on this idea that you cannot do anything about your 300 mg/dl right now.

I would argue that blood glucose results can give you an action plan for that 300 mg/dl. But, the action plan is for tomorrow, and every day after. In other words, if you could identify what made your blood glucose level 300 mg/dl you could change your behavior – don’t eat that particular dish. You might find that a 30 minute walk can bring your 300 mg/dl down to 170 mg/dl – another action plan. Or you may need to speak with your doctor about the timing of your medications.

Making behavior change requires identifying something – a particular food or a period of exercise – that impacts blood glucose levels positively or negatively. And, that’s where pairing two readings can give you an action plan. The simplest example is to check before a meal and about two hours after eating.

You may find the idea of checking your blood glucose more often a difficult step to take. But, if you’re frustrated that your current regimen doesn’t answer any questions, consider doing some investigative work by pairing before and after readings. Check with your doctor or diabetes educator for some additional test strips, and you may discover that you’re finding considerable “clinical benefit” by actually finding some behaviors you can change.

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