Blood glucose levels can be monitored by self-monitoring with a glucose meter or continuous glucose monitoring.
Although diabetes is a chronic condition, it is usually controlled through lifestyle changes, medications, and self-care measures. The main goal of diabetes treatment is to keep blood glucose levels within the target and safe range. Self-monitoring blood glucose levels allows a person to check that their blood glucose levels are within range.
Self-monitoring is an integral part of type 1 diabetes therapy. It is necessary as it can indicate the amount of insulin that is required for correct dosing. Self-monitoring can occur through finger prick tests using the fingersticks and a glucose meter.
When testing your blood glucose levels through a finger prick test, it’s important to follow the directions of your doctor or the instructions on the glucose meter. It’s important never to share glucose monitoring equipment, as this can lead to infection.
Some general guidelines for testing blood glucose levels include:
Blood glucose meters are reasonably accurate, however there can be some variability between different devices. You can check the accuracy of your meter by taking it with you to your doctor and testing your glucose levels with your machine at the same time as having a blood test. You can compare the results to check if there are any differences. If the results differ significantly, there might be something wrong with your machine and you need to get a new one!
Sometimes you might get a blood glucose result that doesn’t fit with how you feel. For example, you may get a reading that says your blood glucose levels are low, but you aren’t exhibiting any symptoms of hypoglycaemia. If this happens, take a second reading or try testing on an alternative glucose meter if you have access to one.
It’s also important to make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly and dry them before conducting the finger prick test. If you don’t wash your hands properly after eating and before testing, you may contaminate the results. This can occur because of any food residue or crumbs left on your fingers, could provide a falsely high reading.
If you don’t dry your hands thoroughly after washing them, then you may get a falsely lowered blood glucose reading! Any water left on your finger may dilute your blood when you’re testing your glucose levels.
You can also prevent inaccurate results by doing the following:
Most continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices transmit blood glucose levels every five minutes. They can even alert you if you’re experiencing a hypoglycaemic or hyperglycaemic event. Flash glucose monitoring is one type of continuous glucose monitoring.
CGM involves 3 different components;
The sensor is made up of a wire electrode which looks and feels like a hair that is placed usually into the abdomen or back of the arm using a simple inserter device. It is really easy to put in and has a similar feel to an injection of insulin. Once connected to a transmitter, it continually records sensor glucose readings and every 5 minutes transmits an average to a receiver unit, insulin pump, or mobile phone. It transmits these readings wirelessly or via Bluetooth. This averages a total of 228 readings every 24 hours!
As technology is advancing, these systems are getting really clever. It is now possible for your readings to be broadcast to up to 5 different people of your choice, to increase support and help manage your diabetes. So a child’s readings may be sent to the mother, father, sibling or even their teacher.
Did you know that finger stick tests alone miss up to 78% of highs and lows? CGMs alert you if trending high or low to take action before you get there. Depending on the model you choose it can actually suspend delivery of insulin before you are low and not resume until you are at a safe level… Wow!
Fingerstick blood glucose monitoring can only telling you what your blood glucose is doing at a particular point in time. The benefit of the CGM is that it fills in the gaps! It allows you to see patterns and trends in your glucose control. This can be really helpful in knowing where to make changes or if you are managing your glucose levels well.
These devices can also be helpful when going to see the doctor. Data can be shared also with family, which can help to reduce anxiety and stress for everyone.
You may consider CGMs if:
As we’ve mentioned, CGMs can be beneficial for parents with children with type 1 diabetes. CGMs can help manage diabetes and alleviate fears of low blood glucose readings, overnight sleepovers or camps, and when at school.
As there are now many options on the market it is worth shopping around to find out which system works best for YOUR needs. Cost may also be an issue and does vary between types, how often you need to use the sensors, and if you can get some reimbursement from health funds.
Below are the target blood glucose levels for type 1 diabetes before meals and two hours after a meal.
|Before meals||4.0 - 8.0 mmol/L||72 – 145 mg/dL|
|Two hours after starting meal||less than 10.0 mmo/L||less than 180 mg/dL|
The first thing if you suspect you may have diabetes is to visit your doctor and request a blood test. Your doctor may perform a finger prick test or a more accurate laboratory blood test. There are a number of ways to diagnose diabetes. Once diagnosed it is very important to get educated!! Once you know what is happening and what to do, you can get back to feeling good again.