Blood sugar testing is important for controlling type 2 diabetes. Find out what goes into determining the best testing schedule for you.
Blood sugar testing is a fundamental part of treatingtype 2 diabetes. By obtaining regular blood sugar readings, people with diabetes can, among other things, help their doctor make more informed decisions regarding the type and dosage of medication they need. Blood sugar testing also can help you see what foods, events, and activities trigger highs and lows in your blood sugar levels.
So how often should you test your blood sugar? The answer depends mostly on the status of your health and the demands of your daily life.
People with type 2 diabetes should take a blood sugar reading at least once a day. Some may need to test as frequently as seven times a day. Whether you need to or are able to perform more frequent testing depends on a number of factors:
- Are you newly diagnosed? If so, you will need to take blood sugar tests more often to give your doctors the data they need to shape anappropriate treatment plan.
- Are you taking insulin? Doctors recommend that people who need insulin to treat their type 2 diabetes perform three or more blood sugar tests throughout the day, especially if they take multiple daily doses or are using an insulin pump.
- Are you leading an active lifestyle? People participating in sports orworking out regularly need to test their blood glucose more often.
- Are there safety concerns? Patients who drive or operate heavy machinery should test their blood sugar beforehand, to protect both themselves and those around them.
- Are there factors in your life that limit your ability to test often? For example, people who type at their jobs may need to limit their testing if their fingertips become too painful to work a keyboard. Others may not be able to afford the cost of the test strips needed for frequent testing or can’t fit frequent tests into their busy lives.
You should talk with your doctor about these factors to devise the right blood glucose monitoring schedule for you.
Creating a Blood Sugar Testing Schedule
In general, type 2 diabetes patients should schedule blood sugar testing to coincide with specific daily events. That makes it easier to remember when to test. Regular testing times include:
- Before all three meals
- Following a workout
- At bedtime
Testing prior to meals is important because fasting blood glucose levels give you a better picture of the treatment you need. If you choose to test after a meal, you should wait one to two hours to make sure you get an accurate blood sugar reading. In fact, testing about two hours after eating will give you a good idea of how your blood sugar responds to food and will help you better understand the complex relationship.
Changing Your Testing Schedule
Many situations might cause you to alter your schedule temporarily or permanently:
- Your overall health. If you are feeling sick or experiencing a lot of stress (even the physical stress of a medical procedure) you should increase the frequency of your blood sugar testing until you’re feeling better.
- You start having high or low blood sugar levels more frequently. Your doctor may want you to increase your testing to pinpoint the problem.
- You become pregnant. Talk to your obstetrician and diabetes specialist about changing needs.
- You’re going to be more active than you normally are. You should check your blood sugar level before heading off on a hike or hitting the ski slopes.
- You’ve successfully treated your diabetes for an extended period. Your doctor may let you cut back on testing if you appear to have your diabetes well in hand.
As with most things in life, your blood glucose monitoring schedule should not be set in stone, but should be defined by your individual needs and circumstances and always under your doctor’s supervision.