3 Mistakes in Blood Sugar Control That Make You Look Dumb
People with diabetes must test their blood sugar levels. But there are a few mistakes you can make that could make those readings less useful.
Always wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before testing, as moisture can impact the results. Also, try not to use the same finger and spot every time — different sites may give more accurate readings.
1. Testing too soon after a meal
If you are not taking the proper precautions when testing, it can lead to an inaccurate reading. The key is to wash your hands thoroughly before you test, and make sure that there are no residual sugars or elements on the fingers. A dirty glucose meter or even a damaged test strip can also produce a falsely high blood sugar reading.
You should always test two hours after a meal. This is the only way to get an accurate result, which will guide your food choices and activity for the rest of the day. If your postprandial reading is too high, talk to your doctor about ways to correct it.
It is also important to test at the same time of day every time, which will give you a consistent baseline of your blood sugar levels. This will help you identify trends over time. It may be that you are eating too much or not enough of certain foods, and it might also be the fact that you are sleeping less or exercising more than usual.
Another thing to be aware of is that some types of foods can cause spikes in your sugar levels. Carbohydrates, which are found in many foods, break down into simple sugars called glucose. The body uses this to provide energy for all the cells in the body, including those that control your blood sugar.
In addition to testing correctly, you should test at least twice a day and follow your doctor’s instructions for how often to exercise and how many carbohydrate grams to eat per day. You should also ask your doctor if you have any mental health issues, such as depression or stress, that could be contributing to high sugar levels, and discuss what behavior changes can be made.
2. Testing too often
Many people with diabetes get abnormal readings when using a glucometer. When this happens, it is easy to blame the machine for giving inaccurate results. But sometimes the fault is actually with the user. Here are a few common mistakes that can lead to faulty blood sugar readings.
1. Not Washing Your Hands.
It is very important to always wash your hands before testing with a glucometer. This is because even if your hands don’t look dirty, they might still be contaminated with residual sugars and other elements that can skew the results of a test. Moreover, you should also avoid touching fruits prior to testing as this can lead to erroneous results.
2. Squeezing Your Finger Too Hard.
During blood sugar tests, you should only squeeze the prick site enough to get a solid drop of blood. If you squeeze your finger too hard, the test strip will get a lot of interstitial fluid along with the blood droplet, which can result in unreliable readings. This problem is often caused by poor circulation or cold hands, so you can try to warm your hands before the test by rubbing them together or running them under warm water for an extra minute or two.
3. Testing Too Frequently.
Many health care providers suggest that their patients test their blood sugars several times a day, including before and after each meal, before exercise, and before bed. Although this is a good recommendation, it is important that you understand why you are testing at each time of the day and what those numbers mean to you. Likewise, you should also bring your blood sugar meters to appointments with your health care provider so that they can see the pattern of your readings and make necessary adjustments to your medication.
3. Not testing the right way
Using old test strips that are out of date or a blood sample from somewhere other than your fingertip can lead to inaccurate readings. It’s also important to use a large enough drop of blood and follow your meter’s directions for testing. Keeping track of your results helps you and your doctor see patterns over time, such as when your levels are lower or higher than usual. Often, these patterns can be corrected by changing your medicine or food choices. Most types of meters can store hundreds of readings, which you can download to a computer or smart phone for review. Be sure to bring your meter when you visit your provider, too. They can look at the readings together and discuss your treatment plan, if needed.