One of the first things you should know as a diabetic is what your blood glucose level should be.
A range from 70-130 mg/dL is typically recommended, but ask your physician about your personal goals. You should know where your numbers stand at a variety of times during the day and night. Many physicians tell individuals to aim for 100 in the morning, though this may be too low for someone who has unannounced low-blood sugar attacks.
Optimally, the times listed below should be tested at least monthly, even if you are only pre-diabetic.
Individuals on insulin have tighter guidelines for testing than those taking oral or no medications.
Why should you be testing so frequently, even if you're only diagnosed as pre-diabetic? By the time a person is diagnosed with diabetes, it is estimated that as many as 80% of the beta cells in their pancreas are already gone (beta cells are the cells that make insulin).
The fact that you browse this site indicates you are proactive and ready to move forward with prevention and wellness plans. By being proactive, you can preserve the beta cells of the pancreas and help your body protect its blood vessels before it's too late. We do this by knowing the blood sugars at a variety of times throughout the day and optimizing blood sugar numbers as much as possible, not through dietary deprivation, but rather by dietary optimization.
The best times of the day to check your blood sugar levels include:
- Fasting - In the morning, upon rising, before eating.
- Before lunch or dinner - To see how low or high the numbers are after exercise, snacking, stress.
- Two hour post-prandial - Which means 2 hours after a meal. This allows us to see how quickly the blood sugar returns to within normal range. This can vary greatly depending on the meal.
- Bedtime - To determine how big of a snack will be necessary to carry you through the night.
Test strips are expensive and optimizing the timing and the rotation of these tests with the help of a diabetes educator or a dietitian skilled in diabetes can be very helpful. Unless your physician wants you to do all of these times every day, it is not generally necessary to test this often except for maybe one day a month if you are on oral medications or no medications.
Using any one of the various free apps to track meals and exercise can help you determine your optimal intake for your best blood sugars.
What should you do when your blood sugar is too high?
If your blood sugar is too high, drink a large glass of water (64-100 ounces) and go for a gentle walk.
Eat your meal as usual. Your meal should contain about 30 to 45 grams of carbohydrate, about 14-21 grams of protein and 10-20 grams of fiber, depending on your calorie needs as estimated by a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist or Diabetes Educator.
Avoiding lactose sugar from cow’s milk, fruit juices, and processed meats, especially those that contain fat, can help normalize blood sugar values.
What should you do when your blood sugar is too low?
First, if you wake up with low blood sugar, reach into your well-stocked night stand and grab an individual carton of orange juice (other regular juice will do) and drink half of it. If someone is with you, wake them and let them assist you. If you can call someone, put the phone on speaker and dial them.
Have important phone numbers pre-set into your phone so all you have to do is hit their number and it dials them.
Memory and the ability to do simple tasks are lost very quickly with low blood sugar. Even poking a straw into the juice box can be a major task with low blood sugar. Be sure to also test your blood sugar AFTER you get the juice started.
If you have lost consciousness or are unable to drink juice, you or someone else can take a packet of honey or jelly and rub it on the gums and under the tongue. This is a very quick way to improve blood sugar numbers. It may take more than one packet, but don’t use so much as to cause choking. Call 911 for any loss of consciousness.
If you suddenly have a low blood sugar, THERE IS NO TIME and it is NOT safe to go to the car, kitchen or bathroom. Stock your nightstand, purse, desk, and other places today and check them monthly to ensure those places are ready to meet your low blood sugar needs. Children will eat and drink these stashes and they will not be there when needed. Please check them often.
Items to keep available:
- A diabetes necklace or bracelet on your person at all times
- Test strips
- Glucometer batteries
- Individual juice(s)
- Bottled water
- Sugar (glucose) tablets
- Hard candies
- Individual packets of honey and jelly
- Extra flashlight batteries
- Extra pen and paper
There should be an obvious note with instructions on how to test your blood sugar and how to quickly deliver you your glucose sources.
And those who may be there to help you should know this information before a situation arises.
A little preparation can turn a potentially chaotic and scary situation into a small incident. Use a bit of preparation to make the best of your health and wellness today!