Best Times to Test Your Blood Sugarby Eileen Bailey Health Writer
Why should you test your blood sugar?
When you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels don’t always stay in an optimal range. Testing your blood sugar helps you understand how food, activity, and medicine affect your blood glucose, according to the American Diabetes Association. They suggest keeping a log, noting the date, time, and blood glucose level. You might also want to notate what you were doing or eating prior to testing your glucose levels.
When should you check your blood sugar?
Many people check their glucose levels when they first wake up, before a meal, and two hours after eating. This helps them make decisions about food and diet that can help to keep blood sugar levels stable. There are other situations you encounter every day that may also affect your blood glucose. Keep reading to find out when you should check your blood sugar.
Before a meal and two hours after eating
Testing your glucose before a meal and two hours after eating helps you make good decisions about foods and medication, according to Kaiser Permanente. Testing before eating will tell you how much food to eat and how much medication you need. Testing several hours after you eat gives you information on whether you are taking enough medication to cover the food you eat during a meal.
If your diabetes medication changes
When your medication for diabetes changes or is adjusted, it’s important to know how that change is working. The best way is to check your blood sugar levels more often, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Check your blood sugar levels before and after taking medication and keep track of the results to show your doctor.
If you start, stop, or change any medications
Different medications can have an effect on your blood sugar, for example, steroids and anti-psychotic medications increase your blood sugar levels according to the American Diabetes Association. Several medications, such as beta-blockers, bactrim, MAO inhibitors, and metformin can cause low blood sugar according to MedLinePlus. Whenever you start, stop or change medication, it is a good idea to frequently test your blood sugar until you understand how the medication affects your glucose levels.
When you wake up
Some people experience high blood sugar levels in the morning. This is sometimes called the Dawn phenomenon and is a result of body changes that occur during sleep, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Testing your blood sugar when you wake up, including waking from a nap, will help you understand your body’s reaction and determine (with your doctor) whether your insulin schedule or dosage needs to be adjusted.
Before going to sleep
Testing your blood sugar before going to sleep can help you avoid having a low blood sugar episode during the night. If your blood sugar levels are low at bedtime, eating a snack before you go to sleep can help alleviate a dip during the night.
Before and after exercise
Exercise and high activity levels can cause sudden changes in your blood sugar levels. Testing your blood glucose before and after exercise can help you take steps to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible before, during, and after exercising, according to Kaiser Permanente.
When you are sick
When you are sick, your blood sugar levels can run high even if you aren’t eating, according to FamilyDoctor.org. When you aren’t feeling well, you should test your glucose more frequently than usual and make adjustments to your medications when necessary.
Before driving a vehicle or operating machinery
Low blood sugar levels can cause fatigue, dizziness, cognitive difficulties, and loss of muscle coordination according to FamilyDoctor.org. It can be dangerous to drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery with low blood sugar levels. Check your glucose to see if you need to eat a snack before driving.
When you suspect hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia
If you are concerned about your blood glucose level, test them before making a correction. Some people try to make corrections based on how they feel rather than doing so based on actual readings. If you feel a hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic episode coming on, test first and then make the appropriate correction.
When your stress increases
Stress, physical or emotional, can alter your blood glucose levels according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are going through a period of high stress, take the time to test your glucose more often than you typically do. When testing your glucose, rate your stress level between 1 and 10. After several weeks, you should be able to see a pattern and discern how stress affects your blood sugar and make corrections accordingly.