Monitoring Diabetes.

This section covers what is involved in monitoring Diabetes.

Monitoring Targets

The normal range of blood sugar levels is quite narrow seldom varying far from the 4 to 7 mmol/L range. Depending on other factors the perfect non diabetic levels in that range may not be given to you as a target. If in doubt ask what your targets should be and at what time after or before a meal you should check.

Food, alcohol, drugs, insulin and exercise all effect the way blood sugar levels move. To get a benefit from monitoring you need to be prepared to change the dietary and exercise factors that are under your control.

The aim of home monitoring is to get a better understanding of how your blood sugar changes and then use that understanding to prevent or minimise peaks and dips in blood sugar levels. Good control takes time and even with time it is unlikely to be perfect.

New to Monitoring or Have Poor Control?

If you are new to Diabetes or if you have poor control, I would recommend more frequent testing too until you understand when your peaks (and/or lows) are occurring. When you have been monitoring for a few days start to look at the problem areas.

Certain meals or drugs and insulin taken at certain times may be causing a problem. If they do peak or dip outside your target level - experiment - try out different foods at different times, change quantities, lose weight (easier said than done, that one), exercise - whatever.

Try one change at a time then monitor the results. For a short period check both before meal time and after, say at 1 hour and 2 hour after. Unless you have a very poor result give it a chance try it more than once. Find out what works and what doesn't work for you!

If you only test once a day, vary the times you monitor blood sugar levels. Try about 2 hours after a meal, first thing in the morning, last thing at night, before and after exercise. Keep a record too and you can begin to understand how your blood sugar levels change.

Regular Check-up.

Any one with Diabetes should try not to miss or overly delay any regular check-up to monitor Diabetes as high blood sugar (glucose) levels do not always give early symptoms and may cause long term complications.

Not missing a regular check-up especially applies if you are not checking blood sugar levels regularly or to a lesser extent if only checking first thing in the morning, as you may well be missing prolonged peaks in the blood sugar levels.

Diabetics will be asked to return for regular check-up after a course of treatment has been running for a while. This applies to those on treatment by diet and exercise only or treatment by drugs and/or insulin. The times between these visits may vary depending on the severity of the Diabetes, the complications (if any) and the 'control' - that is how close to the target levels of blood sugar.

In the regular visits blood and urine tests may be done to give an immediate result showing the current or recent blood glucose level. The main check though will require a blood sample to be sent away for analysis, this type of test (known as a HbA1 or HbA1c test) will show the average levels of blood sugar (glucose) over roughly the last three months. The results of the HbA1(c) test plus any home monitoring done will guide the treatment given.

As being overweight reduces the affect of drugs and insulin as well as increase the risk of complications, weight will probable also be monitored.

Checks for complications may also be done on the -

  • Kidneys - Urine Test
  • Blood - Cholesterol Levels & other checks too
  • Eyes
  • Feet (Sensitivity)

Carrot and Stick.

The 'carrot' or reward for good control is in clearing or at least relieving many of the common problems of diabetes. Problems such as frequent urination, tiredness, lack of energy or falling asleep after meals. Even some of the symptoms of the complications of diabetes such as foot pain can be helped.

The 'stick' or punishment if you take no action to keep your blood sugar levels controlled is an increased risk of Diabetic Complications. Diabetes is progressive and when you have a problem it seldom goes away.