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Tracking Your Blood Sugar Levels

Consistently testing and tracking the blood sugar levels that you and your doctor have agreed on can tell you how well your diabetes plan is working.

You and your doctor will likely have target levels that are best suited for you.

Learn more about the importance of tracking your blood sugar levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the tabs below.

Type 1 diabetes

Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia

Hyperglycemia is the technical term for high blood glucose (blood sugar) and hypoglycemia is low blood glucose. These conditions happen when insulin levels are either too low (hyperglycemia) or too high (hypoglycemia) or when the body can’t use it properly.

Hyperglycemia can be caused by a number of things:

  • You did not give yourself enough insulin
  • You ate more or exercised less than planned
  • You are stressed due to illness or some other factor

Symptoms of hyperglycemia may include frequent urination and increased thirst. Checking your blood sugar levels often may help you spot and treat hyperglycemia early, which can help you avoid problems associated with this condition.

Hyperglycemia can usually be treated with exercise and portion control.

Hypoglycemia can happen if you give yourself too much insulin, if you skip a meal, or if you exercise more than planned. Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Shakiness
  • Sweating, chills, and clamminess
  • Irritability
  • Rapid/fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Hunger and nausea
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating, chills, and clamminess
  • Irritability
  • Rapid/fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Hunger and nausea
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Each person’s reaction to hypoglycemia is different, so it’s important that you learn your own signs and symptoms when your blood sugar level is low. The best way to know whether you are experiencing hypoglycemia is to check your blood glucose, if possible. Talk with your doctor about the best way to treat hypoglycemia. In general, hypoglycemia can be treated by consuming about 15-20 grams of glucose or, in severe cases, with a glucagon injection.

Signs of hypoglycemia unawareness
Signs of hypoglycemia unawareness

Type 2 diabetes

What do my blood sugars tell me?

Checking your blood sugar levels is important, but keeping track of them in a written logbook or software will help you spot trends of blood sugar levels that are too high or too low. If you see a trend like this, be sure to discuss it with your doctor. Keep in mind that if you have recently started a new type 2 diabetes therapy, it may take some time to see the results you expect. Be sure to discuss with your doctor how long it should take before you see an improvement in your blood sugar levels.

  • If your doctor recommends blood sugar guidelines for you, he or she may ask you to check your blood sugar levels every day. Self-monitoring measures blood sugar levels at the time of the test, so it’s important that your doctor also tests your A1C to see how well your blood sugar is being managed over time.
  • The A1C test measures your average blood sugar level over the previous 2 to 3 months, and results are given as a percentage, called your A1C level. The higher your A1C level, the more sugar you have in your blood.

Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia

Hyperglycemia is the technical term for high blood glucose (blood sugar) and hypoglycemia is low blood glucose. These conditions happen when insulin levels are either too low (hyperglycemia) or too high (hypoglycemia) or when the body can’t use it properly.

Causes of hyperglycemia
Causes of hyperglycemia

Symptoms of hyperglycemia may include frequent urination and increased thirst. Checking your blood sugar levels often may help you spot and treat hyperglycemia early, which can help you avoid problems associated with this condition. Hyperglycemia can usually be treated with exercise and portion control.

Hypoglycemia can happen if you give yourself too much insulin, if you skip a meal, or if you exercise more than planned. Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia may include shakiness, irritability, rapid/fast heartbeat, and lightheadedness or dizziness. Each person’s reaction to hypoglycemia is different, so it’s important that you learn your own signs and symptoms when your blood sugar level is low. Talk with your doctor about the best way to treat hypoglycemia.

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