Why Monitor Blood Glucose Levels?
Self-testing blood sugar levels at home is a crucial part of diabetes management. Blood sugar tests are performed with a portable electronic device that measures sugar levels in a small drop of your blood. Blood sugar testing is an essential part of diabetes care because it helps you prevent long-term complications of diabetes. It also helps your healthcare professionals to learn about your body’s performance and adjust your medications accordingly. With that said, let’s look at when you should test your blood sugar levels, what are the common complications if you failed to properly test your glucose levels, and ultimately why it’s so important to regularly monitor your blood sugar levels.
How often should I check my sugar levels?
Your healthcare professional will advise you on how often you should check your blood sugar level. In general, the frequency of glucose testing depends on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan. Let’s look at type I and type II.
Type I diabetes
For type I diabetes, your healthcare professionals may recommend blood sugar testing three or more times per day. Testing can be performed before and after certain meals, before and after exercise, and before bed. Occasionally, testing may be during the night.
Type II diabetes
If have type II diabetes and you regularly take insulin, your healthcare professionals may advise blood sugar testing one or more times a day. This may vary depending on the number of insulin doses you take every day. In this case, sugar testing is commonly performed before meals, after meals, or after fasting for at least eight hours.
Here is the general rule of thumb:
“Listen to your doctor’s recommendation for frequency of testing and don’t deviate from the plan”.
Possible long-term complications of diabetes
Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually without you noticing their progress. Regular testing can help prevent these complications. Less controlled blood sugar levels simply means higher the risk of complications. Ultimately, these complications may be disabling or even life-threatening.
Now, let’s look at some of the possible complications.
Diabetes drastically increases the risk of several cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease (with chest pain), stroke, heart attack, and narrowing of arteries. Generally, if you have diabetes, you are more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
But don’t worry! All of these scary diseases can be easily prevented if you keep an eye on your sugar levels.
Nerve damage (Neuropathy)
High sugar levels can often results in damaging the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nurture your nerves, particularly in the legs. If you leave this problem untreated, there is a high chance that you lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Common symptoms of this issue include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.
With a proper diabetes management, none of these will ever happen. Does that sound like a lot of work?!
Kidney damage (Nephropathy)
We all have probably heard of this one. The kidneys contain oodles of tiny blood vessels that filter out waste from your blood. Diabetes can dramatically harm this delicate filtering system. Severe damages resulting from this issue may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Here is the good news! Statistics show that the rates of kidney damages have fallen significantly in recent years, because of improvements in diabetes management. Let’s keep these rates falling.
Eye damage (Retinopathy)
Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (a delicate membrane lining the inner eyeball and connected by the optic nerve to the brain). This can potentially cause blindness.
It’s worth spending an hour a day or so to perform a glucose testing, would not you agree?!
Poor blood flow to the feet caused by diabetes can dramatically increase the risk of several foot complications, and if not treated properly can turn cuts and blisters into severe infections. Serious damage might end up in toe, foot or even leg amputation.
Not convinced yet? Here is a few more …
Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections, gum infections. How about osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, or cancer! Diabetes can increase the risk of all of these devastating diseases.
As you can see, several serious complications can occur if you fail to regularly monitor your blood sugar levels, so be sure to:
- find the glucose meter that works for you
- test often your sugar levels, as recommended by your doctor
- keep your blood sugar levels in check to reduce the risk of complications.
And don’t forget to keep your healthcare professional informed of your test results. Lastly, feel free to contact our team at DiabeticCare if you have any questions about blood glucose testing.By: DiabeticCare editorial team; Published: 12-3-2013, 11:45 AM