Checking Blood Sugar Levels
For the diabetic, the most important tool to controlling their disease is a tiny drop of blood at the tip of their finger.
The regular testing of blood glucose levels gives diabetics the information they need to control their diet, account for their exercise levels and maintain a consistent blood glucose level.
Target Ranges for Blood Sugar
Blood sugar levels change all day long, in the diabetic, the pre-diabetic and the non-diabetic alike. For the diabetic, though, the average levels are generally higher, and create the risk of damage if not controlled.
A person who does not have diabetes should be able to wake up every morning and have a blood glucose reading of less than 100 before breakfast, at least 8 hours after consuming any food. Before lunch, supper or a snack, blood glucose readings should be less than 110. Bedtime readings should be less than 120 and readings taken two hours after meals should be no more than 140. A1c should be below 6 percent.
For the diabetic, readings before eating should range from 70 to 130. Bedtime readings should be between 90 and 150, and readings two hours after meals (post-prandial) should not exceed 180. A1c should be less than 7 percent.
How to Test Blood Sugar
Testing blood sugar is achieved using a small electronic device known as a blood glucose meter (glucometer.) The meter accepts a small strip that contains an enzyme, on which a drop of blood, expressed from a fingertip, has been deposited.
The enzyme on the strip interacts with the glucose in the blood, and the meter translates this into a measurement. In the US, that measurement is expressed in mg/dl. In the UK, the measurement is mmol/L. Many newer meters contain a computer interface, so that readings can be downloaded into a program. This information may be useful to both the patient and the doctor, as trends can be monitored and trouble areas spotted.
Your physician will advise you on how frequently you should check your sugar.
The Importance of Stable Blood Sugar Levels
Elevated blood glucose can cause damage to small blood vessels, nerve endings, the kidneys, the retinas and the cardiovascular system. The constant spiking and falling of blood glucose levels can injure the ability of the body’s cells to accept insulin. If they don’t accept insulin, they cannot accept glucose into the cells, and are thereby unable to use glucose as an energy source.
Proper control of sugar levels, through diet, exercise and insulin treatment, can prevent this damage, and can forestall the progression of diabetes. Knowledge of one's glucose levels on an ongoing basis, as well as knowledge of proper treatment of diabetes, is a necessary part of this effort.