AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors: Monitoring

When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t properly manage blood sugar (glucose), its main source of fuel. To keep your blood sugar level on target and avoid problems with your eyes, kidneys, heart and feet, you should eat right and be active, and you may need to take medication. You also need to monitor your blood sugar to see if you are within your target goals. This helps you make choices in eating and being active so your body can perform at its best. By regularly monitoring, you can quickly find out if your blood sugar is too high or too low, get it on track and prevent long-term health problems.

To self monitor, you will need:

  • Lancet – a very thin needle used to collect a tiny amount of blood
  • Test strips – small pieces of special paper that you put the blood on
  • Meter (also known as a glucometer) – a small device that reads the test strip and reports your blood sugar level
  • Log book – to record the numbers from your meter to share with your diabetes educator

How often you need to monitor your blood sugar depends on the type of diabetes you have, whether you take oral medication or insulin and more. You may need to monitor only a few times a week or up to three times a day. (There is another type of monitoring called an A1C test that your doctor will do in the office every three months to be sure your levels are steady over time.)

Your blood sugar levels will go up and down during the day, depending on how recently you’ve eaten as well as how much you move. It takes two hours after eating for monitoring to reflect your true blood sugar level. 

Monitoring is an important way to check your health and help you to make changes to feel better. And monitoring doesn’t stop at measuring blood sugar levels. Because diabetes can affect your whole body, your healthcare providers should also regularly monitor your:

  • Heart health (blood pressure, weight and cholesterol level)
  • Kidney health (urine and blood testing)
  • Eye health (eye exams)
  • Foot health (foot exams and sensory testing)

You can download a flyer on monitoring – including tips and a sample of how to record your hourly activities, eating and medication so you can see patterns based on your tests – here: