Christopher R. Palmeiro, D.O., M.Sc.
As previously outlined in our article on the top 10 things to discuss with your doctor at your next diabetes check – your fingerstick blood sugars are atop the list!
Fingerstick blood sugar values can at times be extremely useful to review with your doctor. The opposite can be true as well. You might be surprised when your doctor tells you he/she no longer needs to see your blood sugar logs! Considering the requirements can vary from patient to patient, we will cover the basics today.
1. The correct time to check your blood sugar is immediately prior to meals and two hours after a meal. However this is often simplified by the doctor when he/she instructs you to check your blood sugar before meals and at bedtime. As an example, if you eat breakfast at 9 a.m. and lunch and noon and check your blood sugar before meals and then two hours later, that is a lot of blood sugar checking (9 a.m., 11 a.m., noon). Alternately, if you were to check it before meals (before breakfast and before lunch in this example) the doctor would have a similar amount of information to work with (9 a.m. and noon) and could save you from having to perform the additional check.
To summarize, checking your blood sugar immediately BEFORE MEALS and AT BEDTIME can provide a tremendous amount of information to your doctor. Most patients do not need to check a two-hour after eating value if they simply check the blood sugar value before the following meal instead.
2. Just because the correct time to check your blood sugar is before meals and at bedtime, this does not mean everyone should check their sugar four times per day. At your next visit, ask your doctor how many blood sugar checks are appropriate for you. For many patients with Type 2 diabetes, a single check per day can suffice, so long as the time of day you check is variable. That brings us to the next point, the rule of alternating.
3. Check your blood sugar at different times during the day. Be sure to still follow the rule of appropriate timing – BEFORE MEALS and at BEDTIME. Please do not simply check your blood sugar before breakfast every day. Check it before lunch, before dinner and at bedtime too.
We call this behavior, the rule of ALTERNATING. Alternating when you check your blood sugar will give your doctor far more information and he/she will be better able to target the issue when choosing diabetic medications.
4. Bring a timed glucose log with you to your next doctor visit. If you are going to check your sugar at variable and alternating times, please also keep a diary for the values with the time and bring it to your visit. Please do not simply bring your glucometer and expect your doctor to be able to go through every value. Keeping a log with the times, can help the doctor quickly identify abnormal patterns.
5. Lastly, know the name of your glucometer and the brand of testing strips and lancets you use. Keep that information on your medication list and bring it to all of your visits. Knowing the type names of the diabetic supplies and where you get them from falls within the patient’s responsibilities, so do not forget to bring the name of your supplies to your next doctor visit. In case the doctor needs to refill testing supplies, knowing the machine brand, testing strip name, and lancet type is important.