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Monitoring Blood Sugar Levels

Maintaining a normal blood glucose level greatly reduces the risk of experiencing complications due to diabetes. Whether an individual has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, regular use of a glucose monitor to determine blood sugar levels will help determine what adjustments to diet, oral medications, or insulin injections may be necessary to achieve good control.

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What Does Insulin Do?
In a normally functioning body, the intake of food triggers the release of a corresponding amount of insulin. As food is digested, the bloodstream carries the nutrients to the various cells where insulin "unlocks" the door and allows the cells to use the glucose. With diabetes, the body is unable to make or properly use insulin, so sugar remains in the bloodstream.

Chemistry involved in normal regulation of blood sugarNormal Blood Glucose Levels
Blood sugar levels are considered within the normal range when they measure between 80 and 120 mg/dl after fasting.

The goal is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. Low blood sugar can occur suddenly. Its symptoms include dizziness, shakiness, weakness, sweating, nervousness, irritability and hunger. Left untreated, low blood sugar can lead to convulsions and unconsciousness. High blood sugar levels may lead to long-term complications, including damage to eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels, or to a more immediate adverse event such as a diabetic coma.

Extensive research has shown that persons with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can avoid or delay many of the long-term complications of the disease by maintaining normal blood glucose levels. A variety of home glucose testing products are available to help monitor blood sugar levels.

Insulin Dosages
Many variables interact to determine how much insulin an individual needs at a particular time. Initially, the doctor uses your body weight to guide his decision on your particular dosage. By observing your body's initial reaction, insulin quantities can be adjusted to appropriate levels. Frequent blood sugar testing is required to determine whether your dose is too high or low, and to help identify hypoglycemia symptoms.

For a person who is diabetic, the ability to adjust insulin dosage based on anticipated food intake and activity levels is essential. The doctor may give you something similar to a glucose tolerance test. By testing your blood sugar, eating a known quantity of carbohydrates, and then retesting several times during a specified time period, you can determine how much your blood sugar levels will rise in response to food. Knowing your individual reactions to everyday foods and occurrences will help you avoid hypoglycemia symptoms.

What's Glucose?
Glucose is a simple form of sugar. Dextrose, fructose, sucrose and other forms of sugar are broken down into glucose so the body can use it for energy or store it for later use.

Glucose Monitors
Most commercially available glucose monitors are reliable, easy to use and are available with a variety of features. Some monitors have large data storage capacities and/or the ability to interface with a computer to enhance data management. Some have audio or large display faces to assist those with vision problems. Some have cartridges or drums containing test strips to avoid having to load individual strips for each test.

Choose a glucose monitor that fits your needs and lifestyle best and use it often to help you maintain normal blood glucose levels. Find the right Accu-Chek® meter for you.

Resources

Beaser, R.S., & Hill, J. V. The Joslin Guide to Diabetes: A Program for Managing Your Treatment. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1995.

   
   
 
 
 
 
 
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Last modified 18 September 2006
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