Testing your blood glucose levels is essential in the treatment and control of your diabetes, without accurate blood glucose data you will be completely in the dark. By regular testing you will not only be reassured your treatment regime is working, you will know exactly how different foods react in your digestive system. Remember no two people are the same and seemingly similar foods can have a very different reaction on your blood glucose numbers. For type 1s or 2s using injected insulin, regular testing is crucial. A very strict monitoring system needs to be in place if potentially life threatening situations are to be avoided. Too much injected insulin can lead to rapid hypoglycaemia and possible coma and death. Not enough insulin can quickly lead to dangerously high blood glucose numbers and possible hyperglycaemia.
THE TEST KIT
Hopefully you will have been supplied a blood glucose meter and test strips by your health care team, if not, purchase them from your local chemist. The kit usually includes a case, a lancet pen and test strips. The kit usually only comes with ten test strips to get you started, further strips are available in tubs or packets of fifty.
HOW AND WHEN TO TEST
As a general rule the best times to test are upon rising, 2 hours after each meal and before turning in for the night. If setting up a new diet regime or using insulin extra readings are often taken. For type 2 diabetics not using insulin and with good blood glucose control a couple of times a day is usually adequate, upon rising and 2 hours after the main meal of the day will usually give you a good idea how your control is being maintained. When taking a blood test always ensure your hands are clean and dry, any contamination can lead to incorrect readings. It is recommended you use the side or back of a finger to minimise soreness on the main contact surfaces of the fingers. Move the test strip towards the blood spot until contact is made, ( it works by capillary action ) do not smear the blood over the end of the test strip or it will record and error and the strip will be wasted. As can be seen above, most test meters will record the blood glucose reading together with date and time. This particular model will hold 500 results. Always follow the manufactures instructions when using your meter. Always close your test strip container immediately after use. If the test strips get damp or contaminated they will be useless.
TEST STRIPS AND THE POSTCODE LOTTERY
At the moment the supply of test strips free on prescription is a postcode lottery, some diabetics are getting them supplied by their Doctor others do not. This in my opinion is a ridiculous and penny wise pound foolish situation. For a diabetic to maintain good control they must test regularly, by saving a small amount of money now, the NHS is storing up vastly more expensive problems for the future. Poor control will lead to more diabetics succumbing to complications. Consider not only the trauma to a young diabetic going blind, perhaps unnecessarily, and brought about by lack of testing and poor control, but also the long term cost to the state. The financial cost will be enormous compared to a regular supply of test strips.
Dr.Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution is possibly the best book on blood glucose control, if you only ever buy one book on diabetes this is the one to have. 519 pages covering all aspects for the complete control of diabetes. The Collins gem Calorie Counter is a great little book easily carried in a bag or pocket. 384 pages giving information on 6000 different foods and gives values on calories, carbs, protein, fat and fibre.
Most packaged food will give you nutritional information regarding carbs., protein, fat etc. but many of the foods we eat are not packaged i.e. a portion of fruit or vegetables, we also need to know the weight of the food we are consuming. By weighing the food and checking in a calorie/carb. counting book we can calculate the exact carb. total per meal.
Example White grapes book states 15.4 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. Actual weight of grapes is 85 grams.
Divide 15.4 by 100 =.154 multiply .154 by 85=13.09 grams of carbohydrate in 85 grams of white grapes.