This week we’re focusing on the best ways for diabetics to manage their disease, and we recommend a 2-prong strategy to keep the disease under control. Two important and essential elements include daily monitoring of blood glucose levels, and twice a year A1C checks to measure the condition overall. Here’s what you need to know about each…
CHECKING AIC LEVELS TWICE A YEAR
Checking your blood glucose at home with a meter tells you what your blood sugar level is at any one time, but it doesn’t tell you how you’re doing overall. The A1C test gives you a picture of your average glucose over a longer range of time so it’s a very useful tool for determining how well your diabetes treatment plan is working. There can be many reasons why a one-time blood sugar test could be artificially low or high and inaccurate, however when combined with a A1C blood test, a doctor can make a much more accurate decision regarding how well your diabetes is under control and if there should be any medication changes.
Things to remember…
- The A1C test measures your average blood glucose control for the past 3 to 4 months.
- It‘s determined by measuring the percentage of glycolated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, in the blood.
- Check your A1C twice a year at a minimum, or more frequently when necessary.
- It does not replace daily self-testing of blood glucose.
CHECKING BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS
Experts feel that anyone with diabetes can benefit from checking their blood glucose on a daily basis, and using a meter is the most accurate way to do this. The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose checks if you have diabetes and are:
- Taking insulin or diabetes pills
- On intensive insulin therapy
- Having a hard time controlling your blood glucose levels
- Having severe low blood glucose levels or ketones from high blood glucose levels
- Having low blood glucose levels without the usual warning signs
How do you check? Here’s some easy steps:
- After washing your hands, insert a test strip into your meter.
- Use your lancing device on the side of your fingertip to get a drop of blood.
- Gently squeeze or massage your finger until a drop of blood forms. (Required sample sizes vary by meter.)
- Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood, and wait for the result.
- Your blood glucose level will appear on the meter's display
Keeping track of your results!When you finish the blood glucose check, write down your results and review them to see how food, activity and stress affect your blood glucose. Take a close look at your blood glucose record to see if your level is too high or too low several days in a row at about the same time. If the same thing keeps happening, it might be time to change your plan. Work with your doctor or diabetes educator to learn what your results mean for you. This takes time. Ask your doctor or nurse if you should report results out of a certain range at once by phone.
Keep in mind that blood glucose results often trigger strong feelings. Blood glucose numbers can leave you upset, confused, frustrated, angry, or down. It's easy to use the numbers to judge yourself. Remind yourself that your blood glucose level is a way to track how well your diabetes care plan is working. It is not a judgment of you as a person. The results may show you need a change in your diabetes plan.
Dr. Kevin Friedman, D.O.