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How to monitor your blood glucose

As we discussed here, blood glucose fluctuates over time due to various factors. Monitoring your blood glucose levels can help you keep track of how your body reacts to food, exercise and medication and how well you are controlling your diabetes.

When should you monitor your blood glucose?

You may not need to monitor your blood glucose in the early stages of type 2 diabetes. Your healthcare professional may recommend that you start to monitor your blood glucose when you commence GLP-1 or insulin treatments that may cause you to have low blood glucose. Blood glucose checks can be done anywhere. You prick your finger with a small needle and test a drop of blood using a device called a glucometer. Your healthcare professional will tell you when and how often you need to check your blood glucose. The following terms are used to describe glucose measurements taken at different times of day:

Fasting

Checking in the morning before breakfast or having a drink when your blood glucose is lowest

Pre-meal

Checking right before a meal to see how much your levels change when you eat

Post-meal

Checking two hours after a meal when your blood glucose peaks

Keep in mind that a blood glucose check you perform yourself is not the same as the HbA1C test performed by your healthcare professional and the results cannot be compared.

Recording your blood glucose

Checking your blood glucose gives you a snapshot of your levels at a particular moment. Recording these measurements will show you your progress over time.

Accurately recording your blood glucose – as well as what you eat, when you exercise and emotional factors like stress – will identify the causes of unusual peaks and dips. This will help you to improve your diabetes management and avoid long-term health complications.

 

"I am a slow learner when it comes to numbers - but I promise you, I do what I can."

-Eva Deigaard Lepri

Tips for monitoring your blood glucose

  • Set a routine: Test and record at the same time each day so you remember to do it and can keep your records in a convenient place
  • Record immediately: Don't put it off thinking you will remember the results later – you probably won't!
  • Be honest: Record everything your healthcare professional tells you to: snacks, drinks, carbohydrate content and the exercise you do. An accurate picture of your progress will help you avoid health complications
  • Stay vigilant: Learn to spot trends, such as high blood glucose after high carbohydrate meals or reduced levels after physical activity
  • Keep learning: A blood glucose reading on its own is not a sign of success or failure – it's an opportunity to learn about the factors that impact your blood glucose control and how you can manage them better in the future

There are many tools available to help you record your measurements, including diaries and smartphone apps. Talk to your healthcare professional about which is right for you. You can also visit our  Support section for other tips and techniques for managing your diabetes.

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