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Monitoring

Controlling your blood sugar is very important part of managing diabetes. Regularly testing your blood sugar helps measure the effectiveness of your meal plan, physical activity and medications.

To self-test your blood sugar, you need a blood glucose meter, a test strip and a lancing device. Then, follow these steps:1

  • Wash and dry your hands. Using warm water may help the blood flow.
  • Prick your finger with the lancing device to obtain a drop of blood.
  • Apply the drop to the test strip as directed.
  • Wait a few seconds to view your results.
  • Discard the lancet and test strip properly.

Follow the instructions included with your lancing device to get a drop of blood— which normally include shaking your hands below the wrist or gently squeezing your finger a few times to help. While testing from the tip of a finger is most common, it is possible to use alternate site testing (AST). Other methods of testing and monitoring look at your blood sugar in the long-term. An HbA1c (also known as glycated hemoglobin or A1c) test gives you a picture of your average blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months.

1 Joslin Diabetes Center. Blood glucose monitoring: your tool for diabetes control. Available at: http://www.joslin.org/managing_your_diabetes_650.asp. Accessed October 16, 2008.
2 American Diabetes Association. A1C test, Available at http://www.diabetes.org/type-1-diabetes/a1c-test.jsp . Accessed November 11, 2008.

The long-term measure of blood sugar control, also known as A1C or glycated hemoglobin. The A1C test measures how many A1C hemoglobin cells (a specific part of red blood cells) have sugar attached to them. Because these cells live for about four months, this gives a picture of how well blood sugar has been controlled for the past few months. The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1C result of 7% or less to help reduce the risk of long-term complications of diabetes.

Now known as type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin or extremely small amounts. People with type 1 need to take insulin injections in order to live.

Now known as type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin or extremely small amounts. People with type 1 need to take insulin injections in order to live.

Alternate Site Testing

Type 1 diabetes - children hugging

Some blood glucose meters allow you to use blood samples from other parts of the body, such as the palm, forearm, upper arm, thigh or calf. Testing from alternate sites is not always ideal. Blood from your fingertip shows changes in blood sugar quickly, but blood from alternate sites may not, and you may not get the most accurate result.1 Always consult with your healthcare professional before using sites other than your fingertip for blood sugar testing.

Alternate site testing, or AST, may be recommended when blood sugar is stable, such as immediately before a meal or before bedtime. AST is not recommended when blood sugar is changing quickly, such as immediately after a meal or after physical activity.

Never ignore symptoms of low or high blood sugar. If your blood sugar test result does not match the way you feel, perform a fingertip test to confirm the result.

1 American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes—2008 [position statement]. Diabetes Care. 2007;31:S12–S54. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/31/Supplement_1/S12 (accessed January 24, 2008).

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