When to Check Your Blood Sugar

When to Check Your Blood Sugar

September 3, 2019 2 By Jose Scott


What is the right time to check your blood
sugar? Many patients have had diabetes for years and are still not exactly sure
when they should perform their fingerstick tests. We will cover five
general rules about the correct timing of finger stick blood sugar checks, these
apply to most people with diabetes. Rule one know the basics. The most valuable times to monitor your blood sugar are: No more than fifteen minutes before a meal, and two hours after a meal. The first blood sugar reading taken before
breakfast is called “fasting”. Blood sugar readings taken two hours after a meal
are called “postprandial.” If a patient checks their sugar 15
minutes before and two hours after every meal, that would add up to six finger
sticks per day. This recommendation can become overwhelming so it is often
simplified. Rule two: less might be more. Check your blood sugar before meals and
at bedtime. Checking your blood sugar before meals
and at bedtime works well because it is easier to remember. Get into the
habit of checking at these times. Having some information is better than none.
Additionally monitoring before meals and at bedtime gives your doctor enough
information to make decisions on the treatment of your diabetes. With four
finger stick values in a day the doctor can get about the same information as
what they would get with six. Rule 3: the number of finger stick checks per day is
different for every patient. While the right time to check the blood sugar is
similar for most patients the number of times a patient should monitor their
sugar is specific to the individual. If the diabetes is very well controlled and
the patient is not on medications that can cause abnormally low blood sugar
(hypoglycemia) the doctor may recommend not checking the blood sugar at all. If a
patient is on insulin injections checking the blood sugar as often as 3
to 6 times per day is recommended depending upon the number of injections.
Check with your doctor about how often they expect you to monitor your specific
situation. Rule four: don’t discriminate, alternate.
Changing the time of day when you check your blood sugar is almost as important
as the time you check it. Think of monitoring your blood sugar like playing
a game of hopscotch. In hopscotch you land in a different box every time you
jump forward. You would never win if you kept jumping in the same box
over and over again. This is the same idea as checking your finger stick every
morning over and over again at the same time. You would not gain enough new
information to help you manage your diabetes better. In addition to the
morning level you should check values from before lunch before dinner and at
bedtime. Most patients with diabetes have high blood sugars after eating. By only
checking the blood sugar in the morning after fasting, patients will miss
discovering this problem. Rule 5: don’t be a clown write it down. After going
through the trouble of checking your sugar you should also keep a log of the
values to review with your doctor. A doctor can scan over a written log and
look for patterns much more easily than through a glucometer. The best types of
patient glucose logs are ones that show the blood sugar checks throughout the
day written horizontally on the page starting in the morning and ending at
night. A list from top to bottom can be a little confusing for doctors to
interpret because it is more difficult to look for trends at particular times
of the day.