An aim of diabetes treatment is to keep blood glucose levels within a specified target range. You need to balance your food with your activity, lifestyle and diabetes medicines. Blood glucose monitoring can help you understand the link between blood glucose, food, exercise and insulin.
Blood glucose level pattern changes can alert you and your health professionals to a possible need for a change in how your diabetes is being managed.
Blood glucose meters are usually sold as kits giving you all the equipment you need to start. There are many different types, offering different features and at different prices to meet individual needs. Most of these are available from pharmacies and some diabetes centres. Your state or territory diabetes organisation may also have a shop where you can purchase them. Your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator can help you choose the meter that’s best for you, and your Credentialled Diabetes Educator or pharmacist can show you how to use your meter to get accurate results.
To test your blood glucose levels, you prick your finger with the lancet and add a small drop of blood onto a testing strip. This strip is then inserted into the meter, which reads the strip and displays a number – your blood glucose level.
When and how often you should test your blood glucose levels varies depending on each individual, the type of diabetes and the tablets and/or insulin being used. Blood glucose levels are measured in millimoles per litre of blood (mmol/L). Your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator will help you decide how many tests are needed and the levels to aim for.
Keeping a record of your blood glucose levels can be very helpful for you and your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator. You can keep a diary or use a mobile phone app or website to record your levels.
Inconsistent Highs & Lows
Sometimes you may get a lower or higher blood glucose reading than usual. This could be caused by a number of different things. You should contact your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator if you notice that your blood glucose patterns change or are consistently higher or lower than usual.
Getting Accurate Results
The best way to ensure that you are getting accurate test results is to see your Credentialled Diabetes Educator or pharmacist to learn how to use and maintain your meter and equipment. You can also check that you’re using the right strip for the meter, the strips have not expired, and you have stored your strips correctly. You should also make sure you have washed your hands before testing. To test if your meter is working correctly, you can test it with a control solution. Your Credentialled Diabetes Educator or pharmacist can arrange this for you.
Glycated Haemoglobin (HbA1c) Test
You should also arrange this test with your doctor every 3-6 months.
The HbA1c test shows an average of your blood glucose level over the previous 10-12 weeks. It does not replace the tests you do yourself but is an added tool in giving the overall picture of your blood glucose management.
The goal for most people with diabetes will be ≤7% however this may need to be higher for some people including children and the elderly. Your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator can help you decide on a target that is both appropriate and realistic for your individual circumstances.