to Test Your Blood Sugar
To know if your meal plan,
exercise, and medicine are controlling your blood sugar, it's
important to test yourself. Maintaining your target blood sugar
level is the reason for having a treatment plan, according to the
American Diabetes Association.
The traditional testing
method involves pricking your finger with a lancet (a small, sharp
needle), putting a drop of blood on a test strip and then placing
the strip into a meter that displays your blood sugar (glucose)
level. Blood glucose meters and test strips are available at your
Meters vary in features,
readability, portability, and cost. Some meters also feature
software kits that retrieve information from the meter and display
graphs and charts of your past test results. Your healthcare
provider can use this data to determine how your diabetes is being
A newer blood sugar testing
method was approved in November 1998 and features a laser to draw
blood instead of traditional lancets. The laser device produces a
precise beam of light that penetrates the skin on the finger
instead of pricking it, reducing pain and discomfort.
In March 2001, the FDA
approved the GlucoWatch, a watch-like device that helps people
with diabetes measure their blood sugar via tiny electric
currents. It is considered a first step toward noninvasive,
continuous glucose monitoring and does have some shortfalls. The
FDA emphasized, however, that the device should not replace daily
fingerpricks. There are also other devices on the market, but all
have their drawbacks.
When Should I Test?
Blood sugar testing is
usually done before meals and at bedtime. Relying only on a
before-breakfast blood sugar test isn't sufficient. Instead, a
random sampling of blood sugar testing before breakfast, before
dinner and at bedtime is most helpful. Your healthcare provider
will tell you when and how often you should check your blood
Note: Remember that
being sick complicates your diabetes. You may need to test your
blood sugar more frequently.
The chart below gives you
an idea of where your blood sugar level should be. Your ideal
blood sugar range may be different from another person's and will
change throughout the day.
Time of Test
Diabetes Association, 1997
When Should I Call My
In most cases, fasting
blood sugar more than 180 mg/dL is too high and blood sugar less
than 70 mg/d/L is too low. If your blood sugar is less than 70 mg/dL
and you have more than one unexplained low blood sugar reaction a
week, call your doctor.
If your blood sugar is
greater than 180 mg/dL for more than a week or if you have two
consecutive readings greater than 300 mg/dL, call your doctor.
In most cases, your doctor
will suggest changes in your diabetes management plan.
How Do I Record My Test
Keep good records of any
blood, urine, or ketone tests you do. Your records can help alert
you to any problems. Also, these test records help your doctor
make any needed changes in your meal plan, medicine, or exercise
program. Bring these records with you every time you visit your
by the Department of Endocrinology and Department of Patient
Education and Health Information at The Cleveland Clinic.