Monitoring your blood sugar levels is an important component of managing diabetes. Generally, sugar levels are determined by diet, exercise, family history, weight, and age. Patients with diabetes mean that they can’t produce enough amounts of insulin or can’t produce insulin at all. Insulin is an important hormone that regulates the glucose level of blood.
Body organs and tissues depend on sugar in the blood for proper functioning. High or low sugar levels can hinder the proper functioning of various body organs. This is why diabetics should monitor their sugar levels regularly. Unlike before, diabetes patients can easily monitor their sugar levels using Contour®Next Test Strips on the go.
Why Should You Test Your Blood Sugar?
While everybody should monitor their sugar levels, you should test your sugar levels regularly if:
- You are newly diagnosed with diabetes – Regular blood tests will give your doctor sufficient data to formulate a treatment plan.
- You are taking insulin – Anybody using insulin to maintain their sugar levels should take three or more tests daily.
- Leaving an active lifestyle – Those involved in workouts or sporting activities should test their glucose levels often.
- You have pending safety concerns – Patients who operate or drive heavy machines should test their sugar levels beforehand.
You should also test your blood sugar levels for the following reasons:
- To monitor the effects of prescribed diabetes medications on your sugar levels
- To determine if your sugar levels are high or low
- Track the progress of your treatment goals
- Evaluate if diet and exercise affect your sugar levels
- Understand the effect of several factors, such as stress and illnesses, on sugar levels
When Should You Test Blood Sugar?
Your doctor will guide you on the frequency of self-testing blood sugar levels. How often you should test for sugars depends on the type of diabetes and the treatment plan executed.
Type 1 Diabetes
Patients with type 1 diabetes should test their sugar levels between four and 10 times daily. Regardless, you should test:
- Before every meal or snacks
- Before and after physical exercise
- Before going to bed
- Sometimes at night
- More regularly for those who are sick, starting a new medication, or changing their daily routine
Type 2 Diabetes
Patients with type 2 diabetes on insulin should test their sugar levels several times a day. However, this depends on the prescribed insulin amount and type they use. Your physician will recommend testing before meals and before bedtime for those using multiple injections every day. On the other hand, patients who manage their type 2 diabetes alternatively with non-insulin drugs, exercise, and diet are not required to test their sugar levels daily.
What Is the Target Range?
Patients with diabetes have varying reasonable blood sugar levels. Your doctor will provide you with a target range based on the following factors:
- Your age
- Type of diabetes and severity
- How long you’ve had diabetes
- Presence of complications
- Status of pregnancy
- General health condition
That aside, the American Diabetes Association recommend the following range of sugar levels for patients with diabetes;
- Less than 10mmol/l two hours after taking a meal
- Between 4.4mmol/l and 7.2mmol/l before meals
However, the association acknowledges that these figures potentially change depending on the person’s age and health. Patients aged 60 years and above or who have concurrent medical conditions, such as kidney, heart, or lung diseases, might have slightly higher sugar levels.
How Can You Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels?
Several strategies can prevent spikes in sugar levels. Foods and healthy habits that can stabilize sugar levels include:
- Whole grains – Barley, oat bran, and other fiber-rich foods prevent spikes in sugar levels by increasing the time it takes for the stomach to be empty after meals.
- Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts contain healthy fat that slows the absorption of sugar in the body.
- Don’t skip meals – You should spread out daily food intake, right from breakfast. Taking more food in one sitting leads to fluctuations in sugar levels. Adjusting to three healthy meals daily with nutritious snacks between meals can stabilize your sugar levels.
- Take plenty of vegetables – Non-starchy vegetables, such as cucumber, carrots, beetroots, and broccoli, are nutritious and prevent a sudden increase in sugar levels.
- Spice your foods with cinnamon – Cinnamon has plenty of health benefits apart from spicing foods. A 2013 study found that cinnamon significantly reduces fasting sugar levels. Cinnamon stimulates insulin production from the pancreas, increasing the rate of glycolysis.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach – Drinking alcohol before eating can cause a significant drop in sugar levels. Therefore, always check your sugar levels before taking any alcohol. You should also eat before or when drinking.
Diabetic patients can monitor their sugar levels proactively using test strips. You can track your readings manually by logging the date, time, medications taken, test results, and diet. This makes it easy for your health care provider to track your progress. You should also talk to your physician if your test results don’t fall within the target range.