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How Often Should I Check My Blood Sugar?

Medically reviewed by Anna Goldman, MD.

Should you’re using a blood glucose meter or glucometer (BGM) to administer your diabetes, checking your blood sugar is critical — and should you take insulin, you’ll need to ascertain several times per day. The numbers in your BGM can inform you how well your body is handling the food you eat and in case your medication dosages must be adjusted. Checking your blood sugar every single day can be to your immediate and long-term safety. 

Things to contemplate about when and infrequently it’s best to check your blood sugar:

  • What the American Diabetes Association (ADA) says: The ADA’s advice is broad but includes a number of critical points: Should you take insulin, you have to be monitoring your blood sugar every day. Overall, blood sugar monitoring frequency ought to be tailored to every individual based on goals, current blood sugar levels, changes in medications, etc.
  • Should you take insulin via injections or pump, your healthcare team should prescribe a BGM and/or CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to enable you to monitor your blood sugars. When taking insulin, your blood sugars can fluctuate quickly and dramatically in case your doses aren’t fine-tuned to your body’s needs! In case your BGM says your blood sugar spikes 100 points after breakfast, for instance, that tells you and your healthcare team that your insulin doses need a serious adjustment!
  • Should you don’t take insulin, checking your blood sugar every single day remains to be very necessary. Your levels might be creeping up steadily or quickly, but you’re not feeling the symptoms or aware of the fluctuations. In case your healthcare team feels comfortable with the steadiness of your blood sugar levels — meaning you might be maintaining your A1C goal — you may be given the green light to in the reduction of significantly on regular monitoring.

You’ll be able to’t manage what you don’t know! Here’s a take a look at what times of day you would possibly consider checking your blood sugar.

Uninterested in pricking your finger?

The tedious (and painful) act of pricking your finger can get tiring. Should you’re bored with pricking your finger, definitely take a look at today’s continuous glucose monitoring options:

While you would possibly feel hesitant about wearing something in your skin all day, today’s CGM technology is pretty darn comfortable. In truth, you’ll likely forget it’s even in your skin. 

CGMs provide you with more data than a BGM or A1C test ever could, like time-in-range (TIR). TIR tells you what percentage of the day you might be inside, above, or below your goal blood sugar ranges.

Research continues to show that using a CGM — even in individuals who aren’t taking insulin — improves A1c levels and reduces the frequency and severity of low blood sugars. Recent research from T1D Exchange found significant advantages of using a CGM inside six months of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

You’ll be able to try the Libre or Dexcom sensors without cost with the Hello, Dexcom and My Freestyle trial programs.

Okay, let’s take a take a look at necessary times of day to ascertain the ol’ blood sugar.

Whenever you get up

Your blood sugar very first thing within the morning says quite a bit about how your body and medications are working. It’s been no less than eight hours because you ate anything, in order that removes the most important variable: food! This might be a very powerful time of the day to ascertain your blood sugar, especially if you’ve gotten type 2 diabetes and don’t use insulin.

Should you’re consistently waking up above your goal blood sugar range, that’s a transparent sign for you and your healthcare team. While being a bit of bit above your goal range isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, being significantly above your goal range means it’s time to take motion.

It could mean you have to adjust existing medication dosages, consider starting a brand new medication, or make some adjustments in your overall lifestyle habits that impact insulin resistance. 

Alternatively, should you’re waking up low, it could suggest you’re getting an excessive amount of of a medicine — specifically insulin or sulfonylureas! Have in mind that should you start one other medication, like Ozempic or Mounjaro, this might mean you have to adjust your insulin doses to stop lows, regardless that Ozempic and Mounjaro don’t cause hypoglycemia on their very own. Either way, it’s time to speak along with your healthcare team.

Before eating

Checking before every meal sounds tedious, nevertheless it’s very necessary — especially should you take insulin or your A1c is higher than your goal.

It’s necessary to know what your blood sugar is before eating because we’re also going to discuss checking your blood sugar after eating! In case your blood sugar was high before the meal, that’s critical information for you and your healthcare team.

Heading right into a meal with a high blood sugar could mean a number of things:

  • You didn’t get enough insulin along with your last meal.
  • You aren’t getting enough basal/background insulin.
  • You could consider starting insulin therapy or one other diabetes medication.
  • Your body, generally speaking, needs more support managing your blood sugar.

Checking your blood sugar before eating sets you up for fulfillment!

Two hours after eating 

While it will probably actually take greater than two hours for a meal to digest, that is a superb indicator of how well your body is handling the meal you ate.

  • Should you take insulin, high or low blood sugars after eating suggest you’re getting too little or an excessive amount of insulin. This tells your healthcare team your doses and insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio need fine-tuning!
  • Should you don’t take insulin, high blood sugars after eating suggests your body needs more support from diabetes medications or you would possibly consider making changes in your meal decisions.

The knowledge you get from that post-meal BGM check may motivate you to make some adjustments in what you’re eating. That enormous bowl of cereal or pasta may be greater than your body can handle. Whenever you see the evidence in your BGM, it’s hard to disregard. That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to’t ever eat pasta, nevertheless it might mean you desire to consider reducing the portion size.

Before and after physical activity 

Exercise could cause rapid changes in your blood sugar level because your body needs more fuel to perform!

Aerobic exercise: Also often known as “cardio exercise,” any such physical activity increases how quickly your cells take up glucose to make use of that glucose for energy. Should you take insulin, this implies your blood sugar can drop in a short time. Aerobic exercise includes walking, jogging, vacuuming the home, gardening, cycling, etc

Anaerobic exercise: Anaerobic exercise is different! It may actually cause your blood sugar to rise because of “gluconeogenesis” — when your body converts lactic acid into glucose to make use of for fuel! Your liver may release stored glucose during and after anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise includes things like strength training, CrossFit, and sprinting.

Learning manage your blood sugar during exercise — especially should you take insulin — takes time. Work along with your healthcare team and take good notes!

No matter what variety of exercise you’re doing, all the time carry fast-acting carbohydrates with you to treat potential hypoglycemia.

Before bed

Before you compromise in for the night, it’s critical to your health and safety to present that ol’ blood sugar level a glance. You’re going to be snoozing for eight hours! 

Check your blood sugar before bed is critical because:

  • Should you take insulin or other diabetes medications, you’ll wish to make certain you’re in a secure range before falling asleep. Should you’re low, you’ll need a small snack. Should you’re high, you could need a correction dose. This time of day also lets you understand how well your insulin dose covered your dinner and/or dessert.
  • Should you don’t take insulin, that pre-snooze blood sugar tells you the way well your body is handling dinner and/or dessert. Should you’re consistently above your goal range, it’s a transparent sign that your food decisions might need some adjusting or that you just need support from diabetes medications.

That 8-hour snooze is 25% of your entire day’s price of blood sugar levels! Getting your blood sugar into your goal range throughout the night can have a huge impact in your A1c, too. But you’ll be able to’t manage what you don’t know — so that you’ve gotta start checking your blood sugar before bed.

The underside line

Collect that data and refer to your healthcare team! The more often you check your blood sugar, the higher you’ll understand your condition and manage it.

Should you don’t use insulin, your doctor may recommend only checking once a day or a number of times every week, however the more data you gather, the more you understand about your diabetes health. You may additionally find you only need to ascertain more often for every week or two to see how things are going. Get that data, refer to your healthcare team, and never surrender!

American Diabetes Association Skilled Practice Committee. Diabetes Technology: Standards of Care in Diabetes—2024. Diabetes Care. December 11, 2023.

Gavin and Bailey. Continuous Glucose Monitoring Impact and Implications of Real-World Evidence: Past, Present, and Future. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics. June 2023.

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