Because having blood glucose (sugar) levels that are too high increases the risk of complications from diabetes, it is important that you check your glucose levels regularly. How often people need to check their glucose levels varies depending on their type of diabetes and individual circumstances, so it’s important that you talk to your doctor or diabetes educator to work out a testing schedule that’s right for you.
People with diabetes must test their blood glucose levels regularly to stay healthy and avoid complications. How often you need to test depends upon the type of diabetes you have, your particular treatment plan, and the stability of your blood glucose.
You also may want to test if you:
- Change your eating habits or stray from your meal plan and are unsure of how the changes will effect your glucose levels
- Are about to exercise and want to know if you should eat something to bring your glucose levels up or need to exercise more to bring your glucose levels down
- Are sick
- Are taking a medication that may affect glucose levels or your ability to recognize the warning signs of low glucose (hypoglycemia)
- Are changing your diet, exercise routine, or insulin plan
- Have lost or gained weight
- Have glucose levels outside your recommended range
- If your glucose levels have been unstable, you should test before driving to be certain you are not at risk for hypoglycemia. Losing consciousness while driving could put your life and the lives of others at risk.
There are many different types of blood glucose meters available. Each particular model uses a specific type of strip, so be certain you purchase strips that are made specifically for your meter.
New and improved meters are constantly being developed. Many people with diabetes get a new meter about once a year to have the latest technology. Your doctor or diabetes educator can help determine which meter is best for you.
Choosing a Meter
There are many factors to consider when choosing a meter that is right for you:
- Ease of use (this is especially important for patients such as small children, elderly people, or those who may have physical or mental limitations)
- Cost of test strips
- Cost and availability of batteries
- Size and portability
- How long it takes for the meter to register a reading
- How easy the reading is to see (meters for visually impaired or color blind patients are available)
- Whether a doctor can check the meter’s memory
- Whether the meter’s memory can be downloaded onto a computer
- Whether your insurance plan covers the meter and its test strips
- Whether the manufacturer has a 24-hour toll-free phone number that you can call if questions or problems arise
There are several different kinds of glucose meters available. Your doctor or diabetes educator will help you find the one that’s best for you. Once you’ve selected a glucose meter, it’s important that you read the instructions carefully and follow them closely.