Monitoring your blood sugar (see measuring)
Part of your treatment should always involve monitoring the success of your therapy, namely if the therapy is effectively reducing your blood sugar levels in the long run. It is important to measure your blood sugar in order to evaluate whether the prescribed medications are dosed correctly.
Depending on your treatment plan, you may check and record your blood sugar levels throughout the day, once per day or several times a week. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that your blood sugar level remains within your target range.
Even if you eat on a rigid schedule, the amount of sugar in your blood can change unpredictably. You’ll learn how your blood sugar level changes in response to:
- Diet. What and how much you eat will affect your blood sugar level. Blood sugar is typically highest one to two hours after a meal.
- Physical Activity. Physical activity moves sugar from your blood into your cells. The more active you are, the lower your blood sugar level.
- Medication. Any medications you take may affect your blood sugar levels, sometimes requiring changes in your diabetes treatment plan.
- Illness. During a cold or other illness, your body will produce hormones that raise your blood sugar level.
- Alcohol. Alcohol and the substances you use to make mixed drinks can cause either high or low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and whether you eat at the same time.
- Stress. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly.
- For women, fluctuations in hormone levels. As your hormone levels fluctuate during your menstrual cycle, so can your blood sugar level — particularly in the week before your period. Menopause may trigger fluctuations in your blood sugar level as well.
- Healthy eating Contrary to popular perception, there’s no diabetes diet. However, it’s important to have a balanced diet.
HbA1c is an important value with which you and your doctor can assess the course of your disease. It needs to be checked between two and four times a year. This value is similar to long term memory for blood sugar and your HbA1c goal may vary depending on your age and other factors.
Compared with repeated daily blood sugar tests, HbA1c testing is a better indication of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working. An elevated HbA1c level may signal the need for a change in your medication or meal plan.
In addition to the HbA1c test, your doctor may take blood and urine samples periodically to check your cholesterol levels, thyroid function, liver function and kidney function. Your doctor can also assess your blood pressure.
There are different possibilities to control your blood sugar levels, namely the blood glucose and urine testing.
Urine testing (see measuring)
Urine testing for current glucose level is relatively simple. The principle behind it is that beginning from a certain concentration of blood sugar the body will increasingly release blood sugar into the urine. Urine testing is carried out by passing urine onto a reagent stick and then comparing the color change on the stick with a chart provided by the manufacturer. However there are some disadvantages. It is less sensitive than blood glucose testing and is unable to detect hypoglycemia.
Urine testing can only ever be a retrospective assessment of blood glucose levels, as it can only reflect the blood glucose levels since the bladder was last emptied.
Nowadays, urine testing is mostly used with patients that can keep their blood sugar levels on a normal level with lifestyle and nutrition changes only.