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Diabetic Patient Information

How often should blood glucose levels be measured?

It depends on your lifestyle - the needs of someone with diabetes who is also a PE instructor are quite different from someone who sits at a computer all day.

If you use insulin

In broad terms, people who have Type 1 diabetes should measure their blood glucose levels daily before meals. Some days one or two tests can be done, while on others four or five might be needed.

Measuring blood sugar levels in the morning before any food gives an indication of the amount of insulin needed overnight.

If you have Type 2 diabetes that's being treated with insulin, you should also follow this schedule.

If you take oral treatments

If your diabetes is treated with tablets or a special diet (Type 2), you should measure your blood glucose levels once or twice a week - either before meals or 90 minutes after a meal.

You should also do a 24-hour profile once or twice a month. This means measuring glucose levels before each meal.

Not everyone with Type 2 diabetes needs to carry out regular blood glucose checks.

For elderly people and those with other medical problems, it is often enough to check the urine for glucose - usually before breakfast and the evening meal.

This is because while good control of diabetes is important, cardiovascular complications (heart attacks, stroke, angina) are the main cause of serious illness and death in people with this type of diabetes.

People with Type 2 diabetes will benefit from tackling the factors that contribute to their cardiovascular risk by:

  • controlling blood pressure more rigorously
  • lowering cholesterol levels with medication
  • increasing or starting exercise
  • stopping smoking.

Blood glucose levels at bedtime

The blood sugar level at bedtime should be between 7 and 10 mmol/l.

If blood glucose is very low or very high at bedtime, you may need to adjust your food intake or insulin dose. Make sure you discuss this with your doctor.

At what other times should blood glucose levels be measured?

Blood glucose should be measured any time you feel unwell or think your blood sugar level is too high or low.

If you have Type 1 diabetes and have more than 20mmol/l of glucose in your blood, you should use a urine strip to check for the presence of ketones.

If ketone bodies are present in your urine, it's a warning sign of diabetic acidosis. If this is the case, you should consult your doctor immediately.

Diabetes - General Information

Goals of Diabetes Treatment

Measuring Blood Glucose Levels

Managing Diabetes

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