Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.
If you're new to glucose monitoring, it can seem like a random and unpleasant affair: you log a bunch of numbers at different times of day that appear to make little sense.
You're not alone. A surprising number of people with diabetes are sent home with a meter without ever knowing how to use the numbers to take action and positively impact their health. Not surprisingly, many stop testing altogether.
Why keep poking your finger for blood tests if the results don’t mean anything to you?
But today’s glucose meters are actually the most important tool available for managing your blood sugar (or blood glucose; BG for short). For less than a dollar a pop, you can see where your blood glucose stands instantly, no matter where you are, without any doctors involved. Just a few short years ago, such cheap and instant results would have been unthinkable.
Information you can act on
Think of your glucose meter as a compass. It tells you where you are now and suggests where you might want to head next.
Your daily BG readings can:
- Provide short-term information about your BG control, and whether it has changed
- Show you the effects of your exercise
- Demonstrate the effects of specific foods and meals
- Tell you whether your BG is too low
- Provide guidance when you’re not feeling well (the stress of an illness can often make your BG high)
Who needs frequent glucose testing?
Everyone with diabetes.
If you’re taking insulin, frequent blood glucose (BG) testing is essential. People taking both basal (long-acting) and bolus (short-acting) insulin need to check their BG around five to six times a day. This gives you the information you need to set and adjust doses and to assure that your glucose doesn’t dip too low, especially during exercise.
Even if you’re not taking insulin, it’s still important to test your glucose several times a day to gauge the effect of foods, medication, and activity on your glucose levels.