Blood sugar testing: Why, when and how
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By Mayo Clinic Staff
If you have diabetes, self-testing your blood sugar (blood glucose) can be an important tool in managing your diabetes and preventing complications. You can test your blood sugar at home with a portable electronic device called a blood sugar meter using a small drop of your blood. You can also use a device called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
Why test your blood sugar
Blood sugar testing provides useful information for diabetes management. It can help you:
Monitor the effect of diabetes medications on blood sugar levels Identify blood sugar levels that are high or low Track your progress in reaching your overall treatment goals Learn how diet and exercise affect blood sugar levels Understand how other factors, such as illness or stress, affect blood sugar levels
When to test your blood sugar
Your doctor will let you know how often to check your blood sugar levels. The frequency of testing usually depends on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan.
Type 1 diabetes
Your doctor may recommend blood sugar testing four to 10 times a day if you have type 1 diabetes. You may need to test:
Before meals and snacks Before and after exercise Before bed During the night (sometimes) More often if you''re taking multiple daily injections. You may need to test only before breakfast and dinner if you use just an intermediate- or a long-acting insulin.
If you manage type 2 diabetes with noninsulin medications or with diet and exercise alone, you may not need to test your blood sugar daily.
What if you have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)? Open pop-up dialog box
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A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a for 1 last update 04 Aug 2020 device that measures your blood sugar every few minutes using a sensor inserted under the skin.A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a device that measures your blood sugar every few minutes using a sensor inserted under the skin.
People with diabetes, particularly those with type 1 diabetes, may also choose to use CGMs. These devices measure your blood sugar every few minutes using a sensor inserted under the skin. These sensors are typically worn for a week or two before they need to be changed.
The newest type of continuous glucose monitor has an implanted sensor that can detect blood sugar levels for up to three months. A transmitter worn on the body sends blood sugar information wirelessly from the sensor to a smartphone app.
Some devices show your blood sugar reading at all times on a receiver, smartphone or smartwatch, and an alarm goes off if your blood sugar is going up or down too quickly. Others require that you check your blood sugar by running the receiver over the sensor periodically.
Most of these devices still require finger-stick checks to calibrate the machine. Check your device''t seem to be affected by standard doses of acetaminophen (up to 1,000 milligrams for an adult).
If you need to take medications that may affect the accuracy of the readings, your doctor may recommend double-checking your CGM results with a standard blood sugar meter. Check with your doctor about using a CGM if you''ve had diabetes
Pregnancy status The presence of diabetes complications Overall health and the presence of other medical conditions
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) generally recommends the following target blood sugar levels:
Between 80 and 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 4.4 to 7.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) before meals Less than 180 mg/dL (10.0 mmol/L) two hours after meals
But the ADA notes that these goals often vary depending on your age and personal health and should be individualized. For example, Mayo Clinic generally recommends that healthy adults under 60 can aim for slightly the 1 last update 04 Aug 2020 lower blood sugar targets.But the ADA notes that these goals often vary depending on your age and personal health and should be individualized. For example, Mayo Clinic generally recommends that healthy adults under 60 can aim for slightly lower blood sugar targets.
Some people will have slightly higher blood sugar goals, including people who:
Are age 60 and older Have other medical conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease Have a reduced ability to sense low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia unawareness)
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Blood sugar testing requires the use of a blood sugar meter. The meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip, that you place on a disposable test strip. Even if you use a CGM, you''s how the process works:
Wash and dry your hands well. (Food and other substances can give you an inaccurate reading.) Insert a test strip into your meter. Prick the side of your fingertip with the needle (lancet) provided with your test kit. Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood. The meter will display your blood sugar level on a screen after a few seconds.
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