Importance of Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels5
Monitoring blood sugar helps to determine if you are meeting your glucose targets which then helps to reduce the unpleasant symptoms of high and low blood sugar, and avoid long-term diabetes complications. It is helpful to remember that the numbers are neither good nor bad. They are simply information used to help you learn what is working well and identify areas for improvement in your diabetes management.
Blood sugar monitoring is important because A1C tests are only done every 3-6 months and reflect an average. Someone with an A1C in target could still have a lot of high and low blood sugar readings. That’s the value and power of blood sugar monitoring. How often you check your blood sugar should be determined by you and your healthcare team. Generally, people with type 1 diabetes or that take multiple daily injections of insulin or use an insulin pump, should check their blood sugar more frequently. They may check their blood sugar level as much as before all meals & snacks, at bedtime, prior to exercise, prior to performing critical tasks like driving, or anytime they may suspect low blood sugar including after treating low blood sugar until blood sugar has returned to 70mg/dL or higher. This can add up to 6-10 times/day, or can be done automatically through continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). For people with type 2 diabetes that don’t take insulin or just take insulin once daily, monitoring blood sugar can help when adjusting the meal plan, physical activity, or medications. For example, a person with type 2 diabetes, may check once or twice per day alternating before meals and at bedtime, although some people choose to check more often.
One strategy in glucose monitoring is to start by checking blood sugar levels before meals to see if you are achieving the targets. Once readings before a meal are at the target, you can check your blood sugar before a meal and again 1-2 hours after to see how that food directly affected your blood sugar level – this is called paired readings and can be tried with different meals and when introducing new activities.
Simply collecting numbers is not useful unless some type of action is also taken. Therefore, it is important to share the information with your healthcare team and regularly meet with a diabetes care and education specialist to learn how to take action and improve the time you spend in target range.