The best times to check your blood glucose (BG) actually depend on your reasons for checking. If you are checking in order to choose your insulin doses, then the best times are:
1. At wake time in the morning
2. Before and after each meal
3. At bedtime
If you do not need the information immediately to set insulin doses but are checking for more “general purposes”—like to evaluate changes or improvement in your overall BG control—then checking at the same times each day is most helpful. This helps you identify trends, like if you are consistently high every day in the late afternoon. Of course, you’ll only see these trends if you keep track of your test results.
It’s important to use the little log book that comes with your meter to keep track of your numbers and look over them periodically. The data is not just for your doctor. It's for you.
As a rule of thumb, just before a meal and then three or four hours afterward provides a useful timeframe for seeing the effects of that meal. Similarly, testing before and just after exercise will tell you the effects of that particular activity.
If you routinely test before and after meals, before and after exercise, and before and after sleeping, you'll have great results to review yourself or with your doctor. These numbers will give you a good sense of what might be pushing your blood glucose up or down.
It is true that the hemoglobin A1c (or simply A1c for short) is considered the “gold standard” of blood glucose measurement. It’s conducted in a laboratory and measures your average blood glucose levels for the past three months. This test is used as the main measure of your glucose management. (The recommended goal is a level of less than seven percent.)
The big picture
The A1c looks at the big picture, i.e. “What effect are my blood glucose levels having on my chance of future diabetes complications?” BUT, if your A1c turns out to be high, this test doesn’t provide a clue as to what you can do about it. A high A1c result tells you that you need to change something, but only your individual daily glucose results can provide the real clues about specific actions or strategies you might need to take. That’s why frequent home glucose testing matters!
Meeting your target A1c
What if you meet the A1c target (7.0 or below), while your before- and after-meal blood glucose numbers have been “off”? What does this mean?
Remember that the A1c is an average number. In other words, it's a point that reflects the “middle” of all your glucose values over the past three months. So you could have a “perfect” A1c result of 6.5 that might actually reflect the mid-point between several weeks of severe highs and lows. Not good.
If, however, your A1c met your target and you did not have frequent low blood glucose values, then all of your levels during the previous three months were okay. They were okay even if they were occasionally off-target. There will always be fluctuations, which is why the A1c is the perfect complement to daily testing.
In a nutshell: All of the existing clinical research tells us that your A1c is the vital indicator of your future health. Your glucose meter is a vital indicator of how you’re doing on a daily basis, leading up to your A1c.
Stay tune Amy Tenderich will share more tips with us .