Measuring Blood Sugar



Measuring Blood Sugar

The body is constantly measuring its levels of blood sugar and correcting  high or low values. You, as diabetic, has lost much or all of this capability. With the assistance from technology, you must take over where your body has left off and do what it once did automatically - keeping your blood sugar in the acceptable range.

Measuring blood sugar requires a daily commitment, not as many times as when doing your blood sugar profile, but testing daily is still needed to be able to manage your diabetes effectively.

There is a test that should be done 3 - 4 times per annum, that shows your average blood sugar from the last 2 - 3 months. It is the HgbA1c test, also called HbA1c or A1c.

However, measuring blood sugar done as self-monitoring at home, is with a glucometer, giving the concentration of sugar in the blood at that point in time. This instantly available valuable information gives an accurate picture of the state of your blood-sugar level, and reveals patterns of blood sugar changes.

Knowing whether your blood sugar is high, low or acceptable, will dictate any action you should take to get it back to normal, and helps in the planning of meals, activities and the time of day for medications. Keeping records of these readings will also indicate to your doctor how well your treatment is working.


Technique for Measuring Blood Sugar

Measuring blood sugar is done by pricking the finger with a lancet, producing a drop of blood. This blood is then placed on a test strip that is inserted into a glucometer. Within seconds, the meter will give the blood sugar reading. The whole process seldom takes more than 30 seconds, mostly around 3 - 5 seconds.

  • Clean the target finger by washing your hands, especially if you've handled skin lotion, any food or glucose tablets. If you are in a situation where washing hands is impossible, lick the finger vigorously and dry it on a handkerchief or clothing. To avoid possible contaminated samples, get into a habit of using the second drop of blood after wiping away the first one.
  • Blood flows much more freely from a warm finger. If needed, rinse the finger under warm water. If outdoors during cold weather, warm up the meter under your clothing before testing and warm your finger under your tongue.
  • Lay out all the equipment and supplies needed. This includes the blood-glucose meter; a blood-sugar test strip; the lancing device with a lancet loaded; notebook to record the result and a tissue for blotting the blood after the test.
  • Set the depth of the lancet in the lancing device according to the manufacturer's instructions. It should be set deep enough to draw blood, but not so deep as to cause pain and/or bruising.
  • The lancet does not need to be replaced after every test if you are not sharing the device. However, replace it every week as it does get blunt and using dull lancets gets to be painful.
  • Place a fresh test strip into the meter - as per the manufacturer's instructions. Do this before pricking your finger, because a bloodied finger can be messy during this procedure.
  • Decide on the finger, pick a site on the fingertip and prick it. Care must be taken to use the tip of the finger, not the pad of the finger (finger print area) this is painful, bruise easily and there will be faster build-up of calluses.
Places on the fingertips to prick for blood glucose test
  • Squeeze the finger with the other hand until you have a large enough drop of blood. Prick the finger again if there is insufficient blood flow.
  • All the fingers, and sites on the fingers, should be used over a period of time. Preferring one finger over all the others will not give it enough time to recover.
  • Touch the drop of blood to the proper point on the test strip, when the meter has indicated it is ready for it. Most meters will do this with an audible beep.
  • The meter will start a countdown as soon as the strip has absorbed enough blood. Most meters will indicate it with an audible beep and visible seconds counting down.
  • This would be a good time to wipe the blood from your finger, while waiting for the meter to do its thing.
  • On completion of the countdown, the meter will display the blood sugar value on the screen, accompanied by another beep.
  • Record the reading in your notebook, journal or wherever you keep your diabetes statistics.

 A more complete and comprehensive explanation of the how, when and why of measuring blood sugar can be studied in Dr. Bernstein's diabetic solution.


Caution

If you are measuring someone else's blood sugar with your personal equipment (not a wise practice), install a new lancet every time, and wipe off the end-cap of the lancing device with fresh bleach after each use. It is possible to transmit serious infectious diseases from one person to another via lancing devices.

Measuring on sites other than the finger tips (arms, stomach, buttock, etc.) where punctures apparently cause no pain, can lag behind the fingers by as much as 20 minutes when there is a rapid change in blood sugar.

Vitamin C uses the same mechanism to get into the cells that glucose does. Taking more than 250 mg vitamin C supplement per day affects the accuracy of both blood sugar and HgbA1c measurements. Readings may be lower than the true values.

Alcohol has the side effect of drying the skin; this will eventually foster the formation of calluses. 

Used test strips have the nasty habit of appearing in the most unexpected places like in the car, behind the couch, shirt pockets, handbags, etc. Keep a container, for example an empty tablet bottle, with your equipment for your used strips. Dispose when the container is full.


For Contemplation

Frequent blood-glucose testing is the cornerstone of an effective diabetes management strategy.


You cannot manage something that you do not measure

When your body does not automatically adjust for the varying blood-sugar levels, it is up to you to do it for yourself. This can solely be done if you know your current blood sugar value. The exclusive way to get this is measuring blood sugar; only the extremely low and the excessively high blood-glucose levels have any noticeable symptoms. The "not-so-high" levels will also eventually cause diabetic complications.



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