Education and skills to help control your diabetes
Diabetes is a complex disease that requires daily self-management – making healthy food choices, staying physically active, monitoring your blood sugar and taking medications as prescribed. It is also important to talk regularly with your diabetes care team to problem solve, reduce risks for complications and cope with lifestyle changes.
Successful self-management will help you feel better and can reduce your chance of developing complications including heart disease, dental disease, eye disorders, kidney disease, nerve damage and lower leg amputation.
Diabetes is also a very personal disease. Upon being diagnosed, it’s not uncommon to feel a certain amount of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear about how your lifestyle may change. Fear that you will experience life-threatening complications.
How a Diabetes Educator Can Help You
A key member of the diabetes management team, a diabetes educator will help you learn how to take care of yourself — guide you through your treatment and help you with any fears, issues and problems you encounter along the way.
Check your blood glucose often
You may need to check your blood glucose often when you take insulin, such as before and after meals, at bedtime, and at other times during the day. Glucose levels may rise a lot after you eat. A blood glucose test taken 1 to 2 hours after a meal is called a postprandial reading. Many studies have shown that controlling after meal blood glucose levels is important in preventing many diabetes related health problems.
Why should I check my blood glucose?
Your blood glucose numbers give you important information about how well your diet medications, insulin, and activity are working. Blood glucose levels change all the time. You need to check your blood glucose to make sure it’s in your target range. How you feel isn’t always a correct sense of what your blood glucose is.
How often should I check my blood glucose?
If you take insulin, the American Diabetes Association recommends checking your blood glucose three to four times each day. If you don’t take insulin to control your diabetes, there is no set number of times each day to check your blood glucose. However, if there is a change in your treatment, activity or health, check your blood glucose more often to see how the changes affect your usual blood glucose patterns.
When should I check my blood glucose?
By checking your blood glucose at different times, you can learn how it changes throughout the day and how it is affected by food and activity. Write down your daily blood glucose numbers. Look for times when the blood glucose is NOT in your target range.
When you check depends on what you want to learn
- Any time you feel it might be low, before and after activity, and when you are sick. If you don’t have symptoms when your blood glucose is low, (known as hypoglycemia unawareness), always check before driving, and more often when exercising or sick.
- To see how a meal affects your blood glucose, check before and one to two hours after the meal.
- To see how certain medications affect your blood glucose, check when the medication is most active. For example, check your morning fasting blood glucose to see how long-acting medications taken the night before are working.
- If you have type 2 diabetes and are not taking medication, a morning fasting blood glucose in the target range shows you that your body is making enough insulin overnight.
- To see how activity and exercise affect your blood glucose, check before and after activity and note the change.
- If the blood glucose is often high or low at certain times of the day, you may need to make changes in your diet, medication or activity. Talk with your health care provider before you make any medication changes
Insulin is commonly taken by injection because it would be destroyed in your stomach during digestion if you took it as a pill. But today the needles used to inject insulin are very thin, easy to use, and almost pain-free as compared to some larger needles which were used in the past. There are also convenient insulin delivery systems (pens) that come prefilled with insulin and are easy to use and disposable. Your diabetes-care team will show you how to inject your insulin