A colleague recently shared an article with me on the current state of blood sugar monitoring and the concern that those who are newly diagnosed with diabetes might not understand the meaning of their test results. As I read the article, I wanted to ensure that I fully understood blood glucose readings myself, so I met with a member of our medical team to better educate me. This is what I learned:
Why So Important?
Your blood sugar levels on both a daily and long-term basis can help you and your health care provider better understand your diabetes and discuss the necessary steps to help reduce your blood sugar. Additionally, frequent monitoring may help you identify acute episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
What was surprising to me is that studies show a high number of those living with diabetes do not monitor blood glucose regularly. One recent study states:
- 39% of insulin users and 5% of people taking oral medications or treating with diet and exercise alone performed self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) at least once a day.
- Even more eye-opening was the number of survey participants who had either never performed SMBG or did so less than once a month: 24% of insulin users, 65% of people taking oral medications, and 80% of people treating with diet and exercise alone.
After seeing these numbers, my biggest question was why? My colleague shared studies that reveal factors can vary from low income levels to psychological issues to poor family or health care support. But the biggest factor, she said, is a lack of understanding results.
Understanding Test Results
“First, you should understand, from your health care provider, your different blood glucose targets; for example, before-meal and/or after-meal target blood sugar ranges. Knowing this, when testing, can help people with diabetes determine whether they are on or off target throughout the day. Secondly, be ready to record your results each time you test. Keeping good records will give you and your health care provider feedback on whether things like food, physical activity, stress, or medications are affecting your blood sugar level,” she said. “And, it can help your health care provider identify patterns in your blood sugar levels, which may help inform if lifestyle or therapy changes, like a change in your eating habits or treatment regimen, are needed.”
Resources for Managing Your Blood Sugar
Based on our conversation, I did some initial research into resources that might be helpful for people living with diabetes. Our U.S. diabetes division provides this blood sugar log, which can help you record your blood sugar levels and share them with your health care provider. Again, you should be checking with your provider on when to test your blood glucose levels based on your treatment plan and what other details to record as well. Also, check out the American Diabetes Association’s 24/7 program. It includes helpful tools to help monitor your diabetes and track data. Another great resource is the National Diabetes Education Program.
What resources do you find helpful? Let us know by leaving a comment.
All the best,