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Diabetes Testing - What is Self Glucose Monitoring?

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What is Self Glucose Monitoring?

By Nina Nazor 

Assessing your diabetes control

Blood glucose monitoring is one of the best tools for keeping diabetes under control. Frequent testing and good record-keeping will give you and your health care team the most accurate information about your diabetes control.

What is self glucose monitoring?

Self glucose monitoring is a technique to measure your blood sugar levels that provides immediate information for the following:

  • Achieve and maintain specific blood glucose levels.
  • Prevent and detect low sugar levels and avoid severe episodes of hypoglycemia.
  • Evaluate the effect of different types of meals and physical activity on your blood glucose levels.
  • Adjust your diet, exercise and dose of medications in response to the results of your glucose monitoring.

How do I check my blood sugar levels?

The first thing you need to do is to know your glucose meter. Glucose meters do not work in the same way. You need to read the instructions of your meter carefully and learn to interpret its results. Your diabetes educator will help you learn to use it to make sure you can use your meter correctly.

Please take a look at our Step-by-Step guide on How to Check Your Blood Glucose Levels.

How often should I check my blood sugar level?

It is important to monitor your blood sugar on a regular basis. Your doctor or diabetes educator should tell you how often to check and also what your individual goals are for before and after-meals glucose values.

Remember that to achieve good control you must aim to have less than 120 mg/dL (6.7 mmol/) before meals and less than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L) 2 hours after the first bite of a meal.

What is record-keeping?

There are different ways to track and record accurately your data for optimal diabetes control. Printed journals, spreadsheets, web based trackers and software to use in your computer can help you keep a good record of your control.

You should record the date, time, food eaten, exercise done, dose of insulin or pills and any other thing that can affect your blood glucose levels such as emotions, stress, school exams, the presence of an infection, etc. That way you and your health care team will be able to find patterns and adjust your treatment accordingly.

Last but not least, remember always to take your log with you when you visit your doctor. You can also fax or email your doctor's office the results with graphics so they add them to your medical record in advance to your visit.

Take a look at the Top 7 Diabetes Logs.

How accurate are blood glucose meters?

Studies show that even the most experienced meter user makes mistakes sometimes, so once in a while review your technique with your diabetes educator.

You should also make sure that the meter is correctly calibrated according to the manufacturer's instructions; that your strips are correctly stored, have not expired yet, or are defective and that you get an adequate blood sample.

When you go to the lab for blood work, check one sample on the meter and compare it to the result of sample the lab takes.

However, you should know that the lab measures venous blood glucose and the meter measures capillary blood glucose. The blood in the veins carries less glucose than the blood in the capillaries because by the time blood reaches the veins, some of the glucose has been taken by other tissues.

Anyway, when you are fasting the variance between the glucose levels in blood from the capillaries and in from the veins is very small and should not be more than 10%.

What is the control solution that comes with my meter?

The control solution is used to check if your meter and strips are working well and if you are doing the test correctly. Every time you open a package of strips, you should use the control solution.

How do clean my glucose meter?

Your meter's instructions should explain you how to do it. Generally, it is recommended that you can clean your meter with soap and water, using just a dampened soft cloth. Avoid using alcohol or any other cleanser.

March 15, 2006

Glucose Meters & Diabetes Management. Food and Drug Administration.

Marion j. Franz, MS, RD, LD, CDE. A Core Curriculum for Diabetes Education. American Association of Diabetes Educators. Fifth edition, 2003:98.

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