Blood glucose monitoring
To live well with diabetes, it’s important that you keep your blood glucose levels as close to the target range as possible.
A normal blood glucose level (BGL) can range between 4 and 8 mmol/L but this can vary from person to person. your doctor or diabetes educator will tell you the range of blood glucose levels that is right and safe for you. Your diabetes team will also guide you as to when and how often you should check your BGLs and what to do if your levels are outside your target range.
To keep your blood glucose level in the optimum range you’ll need to balance your food choices, physical activity and medication (if you have been prescribed medication by your doctor).
Why it is important to monitor your blood glucose levels
- Blood glucose monitoring can provide reassurance and help you make positive lifestyle and treatment choices. It can also help you understand how day to day life affects your blood glucose levels and help you to monitor for symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) or hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose levels).
- Monitoring will also help you and your healthcare team make sure your treatment plan is working efficiently and make changes if necessary, to help prevent any long-term complications from developing.
- Blood glucose levels (BGLs) respond to food, particularly carbohydrates, but other influences, like physical activity, travel, changes in routine, stress and illness, can also cause BGLs to go up or down. Visits to your doctor can be weeks or months apart, so it’s important that you are able to understand the numbers and make decisions in between visits.
Blood glucose meters
There are many types of blood glucose meter to choose from, so you might want to talk to your diabetes health professional to help you find the one most suitable for you. To buy a blood glucose meter visit diabetesshop.com. For more information call our Helpline on 1300 342 238.
Although most blood glucose meters have an electronic memory, keeping a written or downloaded record from your meter of your blood glucose readings is also useful. Well-kept records can show patterns in your BGLs, which can help you adjust your lifestyle, and assist your doctor and diabetes team in making adjustments to your medications
HbA1c is another way blood glucose control is measured. It’s generally part of the blood tests ordered by your GP at your diabetes review appointments. HbA1c looks at the amount of glucose that has ‘stuck’ to your red blood cells (glycated haemoglobin) while they’re circulating in your blood stream. Red blood cells generally circulate in the blood for up to three months before they are recycled and new ones are released.
The result gives an average of glucose control over the 10- to 12-week lifespan of red blood cells. For most people with diabetes the general target is less than 53 mmol/mol (millimol per mol) or seven per cent, which indicates glucose levels have been in a range that reduces the risk of diabetes-related complications.
This target may need to be adjusted depending on your age, your diabetes treatment and other health challenges you may be living with. Your diabetes team will advise you of the HbA1c target that is right and safe for you.
This check is performed generally every six to 12 months, but more often if needed.
Blood Glucose Monitoring Technique
Self-monitoring of blood glucose shouldn’t be painful. If it does hurt, there may be a simple solution.
The tool that pricks your finger to obtain the drop of blood is called a lancet. The depth of the lancet can be varied, and technique is important. It’s a good idea to get support from a diabetes educator for help on how to use your monitor.
If the depth and technique are OK, the pain may be due to not changing the lancet often enough. The manufacturers recommend changing the lancet every time it is used because it gets blunt with use (and so might hurt more). It is also important that you wash and dry your fingers before pricking to make sure you don’t have anything on your hands that could affect your result.
Subsidies on the NDSS
The Australian Government has established the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) to support people living with and caring for people living with diabetes. This scheme also includes subsidies for the cost of blood glucose test strips and offers free needles and syringes to people who use insulin.
After initial registration, people living with diabetes will have access to subsidised glucose test strips for one year. If needed, your doctor or diabetes educator can apply for an additional six months’ access. People using insulin therapy (type 1 and type 2) will have ongoing, lifetime access to subsidised glucose test strips.
If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident and have been diagnosed with diabetes, you are eligible for enrolment in the NDSS. The registration form must be signed by a doctor or credentialed diabetes educator. Registration with the NDSS is free and lifelong. For more NDSS information, including registration forms, check here.