7 Helpful Tips for Checking Your Blood Sugar and Caring for Your Meter

Most meters come with three parts:

  • Lancet – A needle that is used to get a drop of blood from your finger or another part of your body.
  • Test Strip – The strip where you put the blood you are checking.
  • Control Solutions – Liquid used to make sure your meter is working properly.

Meters come in different sizes. Meters also come with different features. Some meters let you track and print out your results, you can upload them to a cloud service or they can get transferred to your smartphone via bluetooth. Others have audio and larger screens to help people who have problems seeing. The meter you choose should fit your lifestyle and your needs. We are now seeing more and more meters providng the option of report creation and data analysis, this is extremely helpful to identify patterns and make the needed changes.


7 Helpful Tips for Checking Your Blood Sugar and Caring for Your Meter

  • Read the directions for the meter and the test strips before you start using them.
  • Wash your hands before you check your blood sugar. Food, juice or dirt on your fingers may affect your blood sugar result.
  • Use the right strip for your meter and callibration code if needed. The meter may give you the wrong results if you use the wrong test strip or wrong callibration code.
  • Write down your results and the date and time you checked. Do this even if your meter tracks your numbers. Take the results with you when you go to your doctor.
  • Clean your meter as directed. Glass cleaners, ammonia and other cleaning products may damage your meter.
  • Talk to your health care provider about how your medicines will affect your blood sugar. Other medications can affect your blood sugar reading.
  • Take your meter with you when you go to your doctor. This way you can check your blood sugar in front of the doctor or nurse to make sure you are doing it the right way. Your health care provider may be able to print out your blood sugar results from your meter.

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10 Things That Can Spike Your Blood Sugar

When you first found out you had diabetes,  you tested your blood sugar often to understand how food, activity, stress, and illness could affect your blood sugar levels. By now, you’ve got it figured out for the most part. But then—bam! Something makes your blood sugar zoom up. You try to adjust it with food or activity or insulin, and it dips low. You’re on a rollercoaster no one with diabetes wants to ride.

Knowledge is power! Look out for these surprising triggers that can send your blood sugar soaring:

  1. Sunburn—the pain causes stress, and stress increases blood sugar levels.
  2. Artificial sweeteners—more research needs to be done, but some studies show they can raise blood sugar.
  3. Coffee—even without sweetener. Some people’s blood sugar is extra-sensitive to caffeine.
  4. Losing sleep—even just one night of too little sleep can make your body use insulin less efficiently.
  5. Skipping breakfast—going without that morning meal can increase blood sugar after both lunch and dinner.
  6. Time of day—blood sugar can be harder to control the later it gets.
  7. Dawn phenomenon—people have a surge in hormones early in the morning whether they have diabetes or not. For people with diabetes, blood sugar can spike.
  8. Dehydration—less water in your body means a higher blood sugar concentration.
  9. Nose spray—some have chemicals that trigger your liver to make more blood sugar.
  10. Gum disease—it’s both a complication of diabetes and a blood sugar spike.

Watch out for other triggers that can make your blood sugar fall. For example, extreme heat can cause blood vessels to dilate, which causes insulin absorb more quickly and could lead to low blood sugar. If an activity or food or situation is new, be sure to check your blood sugar levels before and after to see how you respond.

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Why do I need to know my blood sugar numbers?

Your blood sugar numbers show how well your diabetes is managed. And managing your diabetes means that you have less chance of having serious health problems, such as kidney disease and vision loss.

As you check your blood sugar, you can see what makes your numbers go up and down. For example, you may see that when you are stressed or eat certain foods, your numbers go up. And, you may see that when you take your medicine and are active, your numbers go down. This information lets you know what is working for you and what needs to change.

How is blood sugar measured?

There are two ways to measure blood sugar.

Blood sugar checks that you do yourself. These tell you what your blood sugar level is at the time you test.

The A1C (A-one-C) is a test done in a lab or at your provider’s office. This test tells you your average blood sugar level over the past 2 to 3 months.

How do I check my blood sugar?

You use a blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar. This device uses a small drop of blood from your finger to measure your blood sugar level. You can get the meter and supplies in a drugstore or by mail.

What are target blood sugar levels for people with diabetes?

A target is something that you aim for or try to reach. Your health care team may also use the term goal. People with diabetes have blood sugar targets that they try to reach at different times of the day. These targets are:

Right before your meal: 80 to 130

Two hours after the start of the meal: Below 180

Talk with your health care team about what blood sugar numbers are right for you.

How often should I check my blood sugar?

The number of times that you check your blood sugar will depend on the type of diabetes that you have and the type of medicine you take to treat your diabetes. For example, people who take insulin may need to check more often than people who do not take insulin.

The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime. Talk with your health care team about what times are best for you to check your blood sugar.

What should I do if my blood sugar gets too high?

High blood sugar is also called hyperglycemia (pronounced hye-per-gly-see-mee-uh). It means that your blood sugar level is higher than your target level or over 180. Having high blood sugar levels over time can lead to long-term, serious health problems.

If you feel very tired, thirsty, have blurry vision, or need to pee more often, your blood sugar may be high.

Call your health care team if your blood sugar is high more than 3 times in 2 weeks and you don’t know why.

What should I do if my blood sugar gets too low?

Low blood sugar is also called hypoglycemia (pronounced hye-poh-gly-see-mee-uh). It means your blood sugar level drops below 70. Having low blood sugar is dangerous and needs to be treated right away. Anyone with diabetes can have low blood sugar. You have a greater chance of having low blood sugar if you take insulin or certain pills for diabetes.

Carry supplies for treating low blood sugar with you. If you feel shaky, sweaty, or very hungry, check your blood sugar. Even if you feel none of these things, but think you may have low blood sugar, check it.

If your meter shows that your blood sugar is lower than 70, do one of the following things right away:

  • chew 4 glucose tablets
  • drink 4 ounces of fruit juice
  • drink 4 ounces of regular soda, not diet soda or
  • chew 4 pieces of hard candy

After taking one of these treatments, wait for 15 minutes, then check your blood sugar again. Repeat these steps until your blood sugar is 70 or above. After your blood sugar gets back up to 70 or more, eat a snack if your next meal is 1 hour or more away.

If you often have low blood sugar, check your blood sugar before driving and treat it if it is low.

What do I need to know about the A1C test?

The A1C test tells you and your healthcare team your average blood sugar level over the past 2 to 3 months. It also helps you and your team decide the type and amount of diabetes medicine you need.

What is a good A1C goal for me?

For many people with diabetes, the A1C goal is below 7. This number is different from the blood sugar numbers that you check each day. You and your healthcare team will decide on an A1C goal that is right for you.

How often do I need an A1C test?

You need to get an A1C test at least 2 times a year. You need it more often if:

  • your number is higher than your goal number
  • your diabetes treatment changes

What if I have trouble getting to my blood sugar goals?

There may be times when you have trouble reaching your blood sugar goals. This does not mean that you have failed. It means that you and your health care team should see if changes are needed. Call your health care team if your blood sugar is often too high or too low. Taking action will help you be healthy today and in the future.

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