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How to Properly Read Diabetes Blood Test Results

Proper diabetes control and management entail checking your blood glucose regularly, making sure that it is on the healthy range at all times. This is your way to manage your treatment plan and prevent complications. Extremely low blood glucose level can dampen your ability to think and function normally, while a glucose level that is too high, especially for long periods, can cause complications and damage to the body over the course of many years. Therefore, checking your blood glucose levels regularly and keeping a log of the results is crucial in diabetes management.

Your doctor will give the necessary instructions as to when and how many times you should check your blood glucose levels, but in general, it depends on the type of diabetes you have.

Type 1 Diabetes. You might have to test four to 10 times a day before meals and snacks, before and after exercise, before bed, and sometimes during the night. If you are sick, you might have to test a few more times, as well as when there is a significant change in your daily routine and when you’re on a new medication.

Type 2 Diabetes. If you are taking insulin to manage type 2 diabetes, you might need to test your blood glucose levels a few times a day, depending on the type and amount of insulin you are taking. 

To properly read your test results, you must know your target ranges. Your doctor will set your target blood test results based on factors such as:

  • Type and severity of diabetes
  • Age
  • How long you’ve had diabetes
  • Pregnancy status
  • The presence of diabetes complications
  • Comorbid conditions
  • Overall health and the presence of other medical conditions
  • Individual patient considerations

The American Diabetes Association generally suggests the following target blood sugar levels for nonpregnant adults:

  • Before meals: between 80 and 130 mg/dL (4.4 and 7.2 mmol/L)
  • Two hours after meals: less than 180 mg/dL (10.0 mmol/L)

After every blood glucose check, write down your results and review to see how factors such as stress, food, and activity affect your blood glucose. Check for trends, as well. If your blood glucose is either too high or too low for consecutive days, you might need to adjust your treatment plan. Work with your doctor or diabetes educator to interpret your results.

To make sure that you properly test and read your blood glucose test results, you need to use and maintain your blood sugar meters properly, as well. Here are a few tips:

  • How to Properly Read Diabetes Blood Test ResultsFollow the device’s manual. Instructions and precautions may be different from one device to another, so take the time to read the manual.
  • Use the proper blood sample size as specified in the manual.
  • Only use test strips compatible with your meter.
  • Do not use expired test strips.
  • Do quality checks and clean your device regularly.
  • Bring your test kit when you visit your doctor so that you can ask the questions you may have about your device and supplies.