BLOOD GLUCOSE TESTING FOR TYPE 1 DIABETES
Home blood glucose testing:
- enables you to see what your blood glucose levels are, whether you are too high or too low, and whether you need to seek help with managing your blood glucose levels
- enables you to find out how different foods affect your blood glucose levels
- lets you know if your medication needs are changing (if you are either consistently too high or consistently too low)
- meters are subsidised for some people. See your practice nurse, doctor or diabetes nurse if you want to apply for one
Currently, the home testing options for those with diabetes are to test blood glucose levels or to test urine ketone levels
If you don’t qualify for a subsidised blood glucose meter, you can expect to pay between $30-50 to get fully set up with testing equipment. Remember that if you are buying or applying for a home testing meter, you will also need a finger-pricking device.
Once you have your meter you will need to learn how to use it. There are several options:
- The practice nurse at your GP surgery may be able to teach you.
- A diabetes nurse educator can teach you (this is a very good option as a diabetes nurse can also run over issues such as the most useful times to test and how you can use the information that testing gives you).
- Some pharmacists can teach you.
- Some cities have a representative from the company supplying your meter and they will be able to teach you if they are available.
Practical tips for home blood glucose monitoring
- Record your results in a diabetes diary. This will make it easier for you to see trends over time. You can also use your diary as a motivational tool. Putting a tick in your diary for the days you achieve your exercise or food goals can be very encouraging over time.
- Prick your fingers on the side of your finger (towards the tip) rather than on the pad (or tip) of your finger. This will be more comfortable for you, especially if you use a keyboard.
- If you drop your hand down close to the floor after pricking it then wait for a few moments, the blood will rush into your hand. When you then squeeze out the blood you will get a much larger sample. You may find that by doing this you may also be able to reduce the depth gauge on your finger pricker which will mean your finger prick will be less deep. This will make your testing more comfortable.
- Make sure your hands are clean before testing. If you have been handling something sweet before testing the residue of it on your fingers may get into your test and make it falsely high.
- You will get a much better sized drop of blood if your hands are warm before testing.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TEST?
In general, people with Type 1 diabetes should test themselves every time they give themselves quick acting insulin, so the dose can be adjusted if blood glucose is high. The other pattern of testing is to measure blood glucose levels before meals and before bedtime.
Pattern management involves always looking backwards to analyse how you arrived at the blood glucose level you have. Which insulin was peaking in the period leading up to the test? What does the test say about the dose of this insulin? How does the test fit in to the other test results you have for this time of the day? Is a pattern emerging that suggests a better way of doing things?
It is essential to take your blood glucose record book to any appointment with your doctor, diabetes nurse educator, or diabetes specialist. This way you can work as a team when analysing your results and deciding on any medication changes.
Remember to write any unusual events into your blood glucose monitoring diary. Examples of these might be that you had a hypo (low blood glucose) or that you had been to a party and had birthday cake.