If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor likely asked you to monitor your blood sugar levels (glycemia). In which case you will need to measure your blood sugar levels yourself using a device called a glucose meter.
Here are a few tips to help you obtain reliable blood sugar readings and interpret them correctly:
1. Choose the right glucose meter
When selecting a device, take the time to compare the features of the various glucose meters available on the market and choose the one that best meets your needs.
What to keep in mind:
- Size of the device
- Ease of handling (e.g., size of the buttons)
- Readability of results (display size, screen brightness)
- Ease of handling of accessories (test strips, lancets)
- Synchronization of data
- Memory capacity, types of result analysis
- Option to add explanatory notes
Don’t rely solely on the device’s technical description. Take the time to actually handle the device (ask your pharmacist).
2. Measure blood sugar correctly
To obtain a reliable blood sugar reading, you will need to follow a few simple rules:
- Insert a new strip in the device.
- Prepare the lancing device by inserting a new lancet.
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water, and dry thoroughly.
- Prick the tip of a finger (on the side) using the lancing device.
- If necessary, apply light pressure until you obtain a droplet of blood
- Apply the blood droplet to the test strip.
- Wait a few seconds for the result to appear.
If your blood sugar level is higher or lower than your target range, it is important to take note (in the glucose meter or in a notebook) of any factors that could explain the abnormal reading, for example, a cold, an unusually intense physical effort, or a deviation from your meal plan. This information is key to helping your doctor determine whether your abnormal values mean your treatment needs to be adjusted or whether they are simply the result of an isolated incident.
3. Measure blood sugar at the right time
It is crucial to stick to the blood sugar monitoring schedule drawn up by your medical team. If you take your readings at other times, it may lead to results that are not representative and are therefore of little value.
Blood sugar levels are usually monitored either before mealtime, two hours after meals, at bedtime, or at night. If need be, you can also take a reading at unscheduled times, for example if you think your blood sugar level is too low.
In most cases, blood sugar monitoring is more demanding for people who take insulin (all type 1 diabetics and some type 2 diabetics) than it is for those who take oral or injection antidiabetic medication only.
4. Be aware of normal and abnormal blood sugar values
It is important to be aware of your target blood sugar values so you can spot an abnormal result and take the necessary steps.
Normal values for most adults:
- Fasting blood sugar level or just before mealtime: between 4.0 and 7.0 mmol/L
- Blood sugar level two hours after mealtime: between 5.0 and 10.0 mmol/L
Target blood sugar levels may be different for some people, especially children, pregnant women, older adults, or very sick people. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations.
Low blood sugar level – hypoglycemia
When your blood sugar level is too low (less than 4.0 mmol/L or the target value specified by your doctor), it must be corrected rapidly, as serious complications can arise. Follow the protocol you were given by your medical team to the letter or, depending on the severity of your situation, call Info-Santé or 911.
High blood sugar level – hyperglycemia
In cases of hyperglycemia, the response depends on several factors, including the severity, its cause, and the type of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes generally have a protocol that allows them to adjust their insulin dose. For others, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist if your blood sugar levels tend to be a little too high. However, if your blood sugar level is very high and is accompanied by symptoms such as dehydration (e.g., dark circles under the eyes, dry mouth, dark urine), agitation or confusion, fever (for more than 48 hours), vomiting, or diarrhea, you should seek immediate medical attention.
5. Take advantage of technology
The My Diabetes app is designed to help you manage every aspect of diabetes, including your blood sugar levels. Give it a try!