Sugar Matters
October 5, 2010
Checking your blood sugars at home

In an ideal world, everybody would own their own glucose meter (glucometer) for checking his or her blood sugars outside of clinic. He/she would check at least twice a day if taking diabetes pills, and at least three times a day if taking insulin. The prick would not hurt, the strips would be cheap and everyone would know what numbers they were shooting for as goals.{{more}} Clearly this is not an ideal world because rarely do even three of those scenarios align!

This week I would like to start a mini-series about glucose meters and checking your blood sugars on your own. I understand that many people do not own their own meter. The meters themselves are not very expensive on the whole. The test strips on the other hand tend to be very expensive and this is where most of the trouble comes in. Do your best to secure a meter and strips for yourself. Even if you test once a day, you can vary your testing pattern so that when you go to your doctor next time you will be able to show him/her some numbers to help figure out what changes need to be made.

You may be asking, why check in the first place? After all, you get your sugars checked in clinic, right? And you hopefully have a hemoglobin A1C lab draw every few months, right? If resources are scarce and all you can get is an A1C now and then, and a finger stick at your clinic every few months, I will say this is far from ideal, but it is better than nothing. Still, we should shoot for better than this if possible. So if you can check at home, it is better by miles. What can regular checking tell you?

The pattern is the key here. For many people, blood sugars are not high to the same degree throughout the 24-hour period. If you take a pill in the morning, for example, but the effect runs out before dinner, perhaps your daytime blood sugars are fine, but in the evening and overnight they are not. Therefore, the change your doctor needs to make is to add a pill at evening time. This is different than for someone who maybe also takes their pill in the morning but still has high blood sugars all day because he/she drinks soda for breakfast and lunch, then later on skips dinner so blood sugars are not that bad at night.

Diabetes pills and insulin’s have varying degrees as to how long they work, and when they start working in the first place. The information your doctor will get from your finger testing will let him/her know how best to arrange your medications to line up with when your blood sugar problems are actually needing help.

Next week we will start talking about the best times to test and what values you should be targeting.In the meantime, try your best to get your hands on a meter you can use on your own. As I said, even once every few days is better than once every three months.

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227