Blood Sugar Test Results Help You Take Control
Testing your own blood sugar helps you take control of your health, especially once you learn what your test result numbers mean, and what to do with them. Recent research, the Structured Testing Protocol (STeP) study, offers the proof. The study concluded that collecting the data of blood sugar test results, visualizing and understanding this data, and focusing treatment based on that data significantly reduced the A1C levels of poorly controlled type 2 diabetes over a 12-month period1.
Frequent testing gives you the data to make informed decisions about your medication, diet, and exercise regimens. It is a smart way to see how what you eat and what you do affects your blood glucose.
Your test results inform the conversation you’ll have with your healthcare provider about setting target range goals for yourself, and they show how well you’re achieving them. It also helps you understand how to adjust your own oral medications or insulin dosage if your doctor has taught you how to do this yourself.
Overall, you’ll be better equipped to cope with the day-to-day demands of living with diabetes so you can feel better each day. And best of all, by doing all of this, you can lower your risk for future diabetes complications.2
Best times to test
The standard times to test your blood sugar level include:3
- Before breakfast (fasting)
- Before lunch/dinner
- Two hours after a meal
- Before bed
- Before and after rigorous exercise (and hours later)
- When you don’t feel well
Other events that could require a blood sugar test include:
- Changes to your routine while travelling
- Changing or adjusting your insulin or medication
- When you’re experiencing either high or low blood sugar symptoms
- When you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant
- Before and after surgical procedures
- After dental procedures
- During illness
- While taking medications for illness
- While premenstrual
Note special circumstances for test results
Any one of these things can raise or lower your blood glucose level. As you test, make a note of each result, noting what was happening at the time you ran the test. These events could include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Ate a big meal, or were hungry
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Feeling stress or anxiety
- Being in extreme temperatures, hot or cold
- Testing at high altitudes
- Being ill
Setting a target range
What is the target blood glucose level for people with diabetes? It depends on your age and other medical conditions you may have. For people age 59 and younger with no other medical issues, the target range may fall between 80 and 120 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). For people age 60 and older who do have other medical issues, the target range may fall between 100 and 140 mg/dL. 4 Your doctor will set target blood sugar test results specifically for you, based on several factors including:
- Whether you are type 1 or type 2
- Your age
- How long you've had diabetes
- If you have other diabetes-related complications
- Your overall health, including other medical conditions you may have
When to retest
Have your test results come back too high or too low, yet you feel just fine? Or are your test results on target, but you still don’t feel right? Don’t dismiss the results. Wash your hands, retest and see if you get the same numbers before you take action. Over days and weeks, compare your readings to previous ones.
Tools for understanding results
The Accu-Chek brand offers several, simple, on-paper diabetes management tools that help you understand your blood sugar test results. Try the Accu-Check 3600 View tool (which was used by researchers in the 12-month STeP study) or the Accu-Chek Testing in Pairs tool. Both can help you and your healthcare provider identify patterns for how things like stress, food, or exercise affect your test results.
Talk to your healthcare provider
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you analyze your test results. They will use this information to consider a number of options, such as adjusting your testing routine, ensuring that you’re testing correctly, suggesting changes to your self-management, or even ordering extra tests to explain any anomalies.
1Diabetes Care Journals. Structured Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose Significantly Reduces A1C Levels in Poorly Controlled, Noninsulin-Treated Type 2 Diabetes -- Results from the Structured Testing Program study. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/2/262.full Accessed August 24, 2015.
2International Diabetes Federation. Diabetes education module 1.2, 2011: Self Management Education. Available at: https://www.idf.org/education/resources/modules-2011/download Accessed June 30, 2015.
3Diabetes Australia. Blood Glucose Monitoring. Available at: http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/Living-with-Diabetes/Type-1-Diabetes/Managing-Type-1-Diabetes/Blood-Glucose-Monitoring Accessed June 30, 2015
4Mayo Clinic. Blood Sugar Testing: Why, When, and How. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/blood-sugar/art-20046628?pg=1Accessed July 1, 2015