If you are concerned about your blood glucose levels or if diabetes runs in your family, you can visit your GP who will measure your blood glucose levels by taking a small blood draw from your arm for testing. The test for diabetes is a measurement of your HbA1C level, which is the average blood glucose levels over the past three months. Based on the results from this test, your GP will be able to advise on the appropriate action(s) to be taken.
To test your blood glucose at home, you will need a blood glucose monitor, also known as a glucometer. This is a small hand-held device that tests your blood glucose by taking a small blood drop from a prick of your finger. Your GP can issue you with a glucometer or they can be purchased at a pharmacy. There are also alternative monitors that avoid pricking the finger which involve attaching a sensor to the back of your upper arm. You can find out more here.
It is recommended that you test your blood glucose levels several times per day to understand how your body reacts in between meals. For example, your blood glucose level will naturally rise after a meal. For people with diabetes, these changes will be greater and occur more often throughout the day.
The most recommended approach is a ‘fasted blood glucose test’ which is carried out first thing in the morning when you wake up as your blood glucose levels will not be influenced by food or drink. You can also test before meals, after meals and in the evening. Blood glucose levels vary from person to person and is heavily linked to your risk profile of developing diabetes, your diet and how active you are.
Below is an example of a suggested daily testing schedule:
How to use a finger prick monitor:
For more information / guidance on using finger prick monitors, head to Diabetes UK.
To gather a clear picture of your blood glucose levels, it is advised that you take detailed notes of each test result, date/time of test, and a list of all the food and drink consumed prior to the test.
Diabetes UK suggests the following mmol/L’s for type 1 and type 2 diabetes that represent a “healthy target.” The measure of blood glucose is in millimoles per litre (mmol/L), a scientific unit used to measure a substance.
For adults with Type 1 diabetes:
For adults with Type 2 diabetes:
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