Managing diabetes is a daunting task for the newly diagnosed patient. The constant monitoring of blood sugar, counting dietary carbohydrates and adjusting insulin dosages can be intimidating. The purpose of these seemingly complicated tasks is to help the diabetic to find the balance between their insulin needs and what they eat. The goal of this hard work is to maintain the diabetic’s blood sugar to within the normal range of between 70-100mg/dl. The closer the diabetic can keep their blood sugar to this range, the less damage the diabetes is doing to their body.
At first, you may have to test your blood sugar up to five times a day. For a non-diabetic this may not appear to be a big deal, but anyone who has had to puncture their finger with a lancet will tell you, it’s not a fun experience. No matter how fine the needle of the lancet is, you still have to puncture yourself deep enough to get a drop of blood. That means that in one week’s time you’ll have pricked your fingers thirty-five times. The bad news is, you’ll need to do this for at least two weeks. The good news is, you will be taking a huge step in controlling your diabetes instead of allowing your diabetes to control you.
Why five times a day, you may ask? Because you need to know what your blood sugar level is throughout day. Normally a person’s body will release insulin or sugar according to their needs. Before eating, our blood sugar drops, signaling that it is time for food. After eating, blood sugar naturally increases. The body will then release the needed insulin to compensate for the increase in blood sugar. For a diabetic, these processes are skewed, meaning that either the body is not producing enough insulin or it is not absorbing the insulin that is being made.
So, to get an accurate accounting you will need to keep a log book of what you are eating, when you are eating, the time and the level of your blood glucose tests. You should take your first blood sugar test before you eat breakfast. This is called fasting blood glucose because you have not had any food for several hours. This first test will help the doctor to know where your blood sugar levels are starting out in the morning. If you are on a nightly shot of long acting insulin, the doctor will adjust the dosage according to this level.
The next two levels should be taken before eating lunch and dinner so that you can adjust your fast acting insulin accordingly. Your doctor will have provided you with a scale with which dosage is determined by the range in which your blood sugar falls. The fourth blood sugar level should be taken just before bedtime. This will help the doctor to determine your nighttime blood sugar. This is how the doctor will know if you are maintaining control of your blood sugar throughout the day.
Wait, I did say five times a day, didn’t I? The fifth test should be performed two hours after a meal. Which meal? You will need to rotate through your mealtimes and randomly test your two hour post meal blood sugar level. This will allow the doctor to determine if the sliding scale is giving you accurate coverage.
This may seem like a huge task, but it will be worth it. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar will help you to stave off the complications associated with diabetes. A little work now will allow the person to manage their diabetes and to not allow the diabetes to manage them.