Managing Diabetes Highlights:
- Your recommended blood glucose range depends on your age, medical conditions and other factors, and is unique to you.
- Checking your blood glucose at different times of day is a good idea. Do so before and two hours after meals.
- If you are sick, stressed or starting on a new medication, it is a good idea to check more often.
If you have diabetes, caring for your condition involves keeping your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. People learning to live with diabetes often ask similar questions about blood glucose monitoring. It is a key part of managing diabetes.
Why should I monitor my blood glucose?
Blood glucose monitoring allows you to:
- learn how food, activity and medication affects your blood glucose.
- recognize the symptoms of high or low blood glucose levels.
- notice patterns in your blood glucose control, such as high glucose levels after you eat lunch.
Tracking your blood glucose levels allows you to take control of your diabetes.
What should my blood glucose level be?
Your blood glucose target range is based on your age, medical conditions and other risk factors, and is individual to you. Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator to determine what your blood glucose target range should be. Keeping your blood glucose as close to your target range as possible is less damaging for your body, and may help delay or prevent diabetes complications.
The table below shows recommended blood glucose target goals for most adults and teens with diabetes.
Blood Glucose Targets for Teens & Adults
|Blood glucose before meals||Blood glucose 2 hours after meals|
|Targets for most people who have diabetes||4 - 7 mmol/L||5 - 10 mmol/L|
|Normal range||4 - 6 mmol/L||5 - 8 mmol/L|
CREDIT: Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada
How often should I check my blood glucose?
The frequency of blood glucose checks will depend on whether you are treating your diabetes with lifestyle changes, pills, or insulin, and how much your blood glucose changes during the day. Check with your diabetes care team on what is best for you. One study suggested:
- People who use insulin more than once a day should check their blood glucose at least three times each day.
- People who have type 2 diabetes who use insulin once daily along with pills should check their blood glucose at least once a day.
- People who use lifestyle changes or pills to manage their diabetes should ask their doctor or diabetes educator how often to check.
Access Canadian recommendations for blood glucose management
Details on Canadian recommendations for blood glucose management can be found on the Diabetes Canada website: tinyurl.com/zq3gn8bz
It is also a good idea to check your blood glucose at different times of day, including before and two hours after meals. Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator to decide the best schedule for you. Keep a record of your blood glucose levels in a logbook or on paper, and bring these records to all appointments with your diabetes health care team. Another option is to bring your meter and review the records stored in the memory with your team. Many meters now have apps that may allow you to share you information remotely with your health care providers.
You may need to monitor your blood glucose more frequently when you have a change in medication, activity level, or nutrition. If you are ill, stressed, or suspect that your blood glucose is low, check more often.
How do I choose the blood glucose meter that is right for me?
Visit your pharmacy to see the meters that are available. Your pharmacy team will help you choose one with features that will meet your needs. Ask for your free diabetes logbook to record your blood glucose readings.
If you have questions about blood glucose monitoring or any other aspect of your diabetes care, feel free to check with your pharmacy. Your pharmacist, pharmacy assistant or technician will be happy to help.
WRITTEN BY: Rami Chowaniec, BScPharm, APA, CDE, a pharmacist practicing at the Southgate Safeway in Edmonton, Alberta.