Diabetes and self-monitoring of blood glucose

If you have diabetes, you may need to test your blood glucose levels regularly and have blood tests every 3 to 6 months.

What is glycemia?

Glycemia is the medical term used to describe glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. It is most often measured at home using a blood glucose meter, but can also be measured by a blood test in a laboratory.  

What is glycated hemoglobin?

It is a blood test that should be done regularly (every 3 to 6 months) for patients with diabetes. Like blood glucose testing, glycated hemoglobin is essential for monitoring a diabetic patient, as it indicates the level of diabetes control.  

Effective diabetes control is essential to prevent both short-term and long-term complications. Blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin measurements are complementary.

What is self-monitoring of blood glucose?

Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) is the measurement and monitoring of your own blood glucose levels using a device called a blood glucose meter. The technique is simple:

  • Wash your hands with soapy water and dry them.
  • Insert the test strip into the meter.
  • Insert a new lancet into the lancing device.
  • Prick the fingertip (choose the side of the finger).
  • Apply the drop of blood to the strip following the recommendations provided with the meter.
  • Wait to see and interpret the result.
  • Record the result in the logbook and note things to consider when interpreting the result, such as eating meals close together or eating during the night.

Persons, living with diabetes, especially those using insulin, must closely monitor their blood sugar level to make sure it always remains within the target range. For most people, the goal is to maintain fasting blood glucose levels in the morning and before meals between 4 and 7 mmol/L, and between 5 and 10 mmol/L two hours after meals. In some people, different targets may be targeted. It is therefore necessary to check with your doctor to find out your blood glucose targets.

SMBG is used to monitor changes in blood glucose levels and assess the effect of certain factors on blood glucose levels. It can also be used to detect and correct hypoglycemia. Factors that can affect blood glucose levels include: diet, alcohol consumption, exercise, illness (e.g. infection), changes in medication, intense stress, etc. Don't forget to keep a record (blood glucose logbook) of all your measurements, including the date, time of day, and details of factors that may have influenced the reading on the device.

Monitoring your blood glucose levels will allow you to make the necessary adjustments to bring your blood glucose levels back to normal.

How often should I test my blood glucose?

It depends on your type of diabetes, your medication and the adjustments you need to make to your treatment. It is essential that you and your doctor are very clear about what your blood glucose levels should be (blood glucose targets) and how often you should test. Follow your doctor's instructions to the letter. 

Which device should I choose?

Choosing a blood glucose meter is key because you will need to use it every day. So choose a meter that you like and that is easy for you to use. These are the two most important criteria for selecting a meter. You should also consider your abilities, your lifestyle and, most importantly, your needs. Each device has its own characteristics, advantages and inconveniences.

Is self-monitoring of blood glucose difficult?

Probably the hardest part is to include SMBG in your daily routine and remember it! Once you get comfortable with the meter, you'll find that it's not that complicated. However, you will need to receive thorough instruction from a professional when you purchase the device. Make sure you understand each step of its operation and ask as many questions as needed. Meter manufacturers provide very clear operating instructions that you can refer to at any time. They also provide a toll-free number for immediate support at any time if you have problems with your device.

Blood glucose monitoring is a key part of managing your diabetes. You must strictly adhere to the recommendations of your healthcare team in this regard. This is a great way to take control of your diabetes.

Speak to your doctor, diabetes nurse, or pharmacist for additional information about self-monitoring.



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Diabetes and self-monitoring of blood glucose

If you’re diabetic, it is extremely important that you measure your blood sugar level regularly to avoid serious health problems.
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