Monitoring your Diabetes

If you are diabetic, you will be taught how to check your blood sugar so that you can monitor and control your diabetes yourself at home.

Self-monitoring your blood glucose enables you to act quickly to abnormal levels to prevent the onset and worsening of complications.

Your doctor may advise you to keep a diary to spot any trends in your blood sugar levels so that your treatment can be specially tailored to you.

When to monitor sugar levels?

With Type II Diabetes which is not treated with insulin, it is not usually necessary to measure your blood sugar every day, unless the doctor advises to do so.

As each patient is different, you will be advised when and how often to check your blood sugar by your GP or diabetic specialist.

The times which may be recommended are:
  • Morning before breakfast
  • The evening before dinner
  • Two hours after the start of the meal to assess the hyperglycaemic effect of a meal.
  • If you start or change to a new treatment (oral diabetic medicine or insulin)
  • If your diabetes is uncontrolled

Blood glucose meters

The blood is collected with a "little" skin prick.

The blood is then checked by a small portable monitor.

You will be taught how to do this by your diabetic or practice nurse, but the main points are shown below:

Collecting your blood

  • Collection of the drop of blood can cause very mild pain with which you will become familiar.
  • There are several varieties of self-pricking devices, each with a safe method of delivering a tiny "prick" to obtain the one drop of blood needed.
  • The needles will need to be disposed of safely and you will usually be given a sharps box or bin for this.
  • It is advisable to prick the side of the finger.
  • Wash and dry your hands beforehand
  • Do not use alcohol or disinfectant.

Obtaining a result

  • Check that the batteries are working and the device is clean
  • Check the expiration dates of the strips and avoid using strips from a bottle opened over 3 months ago
  • Try not touch the metal part of the strip which is inserted into the machine, as this could affect the result
  • Check that the device is properly calibrated - this is usually done with calibration fluid provided with the meter and will be explained in the instruction leaflet

Additional monitoring

Your doctor may advise you to monitor your diabetes more often in certain circumstances:
  • Before or after physical exertion
  • If you are unwell or have an infection
  • Before driving to ensure you are not hypoglycaemic
  • If you start other medication that may affect your blood sugar (for example, steroids)
  • At time of stress, or a change of pace of work (for example, exams)
  • When travelling on long trips or a change in eating habits
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