WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?
Numbers are very helpful when we are trying to live a healthy lifestyle. The number on the weight scale let us know if we need to eat smaller portions of food or different foods or get more exercise. The number of steps on our pedometer keep us on track with regular exercise. Lab tests give you and your health care providers Information about your overall health. The numbers in managing your blood sugar include the A1c , a lab value that let’s you know how well your diabetes care plan is working.
A Diabetes Care Plan includes the following:
A plan for exercise or physical activity
A healthy meal plan
Regular visits to your healthcare providers
Taking medicines prescribed by your doctor
Checking your blood glucose daily
Problem solving with your diabetes team
Working on healthy coping skills (1)
The A1C test is repeated every 3 months when a new treatment plan is started. The A1C is repeated every six months when diabetes is more stable. The A1C test gives you the “big picture” over a period of time but does not tell you what your blood glucose levels are on a daily basis. Good control of diabetes is an A1C of less than 7 according to the American Diabetes Association (1)
Self blood glucose monitoring or daily checking of your blood glucose gives you the facts on how your food choices, exercise or physical activity are changing your blood glucose numbers (2) Most people with diabetes test their blood glucose twice daily. It is good to check your blood sugar at different times of the day to learn how your blood glucose changes during different times of the day, Sometimes you may forget to check your blood glucose according to the schedule. Just make a note in your log book that you forgot and check it at the time you remembered. If you are new to checking your blood glucose it may help to keep the meter with you or in the room of your home where you will most likely see the meter and it will remind you of checking blood glucose. What is most important is that you are regularly checking your blood glucose not that you have missed one time. New habits take time to become part of your daily routine. It may seem a little overwhelming at first but over time it will become a regular part of your day
Here is an example of a monthly blood glucose checking schedule
Week one: Check first thing in the morning and at bedtime
Week two: Check before breakfast and 2 hours after breakfast
Week three: Check before evening meal and 2 hours after the evening meal
Week four: Check your blood glucose at the times of day when it tends to be higher or changes a lot from day to day.
You can help your diabetes health careproviders by bringing your blood glucose log book or blood glucose checking device to your next appointment. The meters are downloaded and your entire blood glucose pattern for a specified time period is available. The information or data includes your average daily blood glucose, the number and percent of low or high blood glucose values. The mean blood glucose , or the number around which most of your blood glucose readings lie is useful in comparing your blood glucose pattern from one download to the next. Mean blood glucose levels might be higher during the holiday seasons when foods and eating patterns vary. Mean blood glucose might be lower during a vacation time when you are able to walk or exercise more frequently . These are two examples of how your food habits, level of emotional stress and physical activity can change your blood glucose levels. The information your glucose meter provides helps you to manage your diabetes on a daily basis . The A1C reading does not tell you when your blood glucose levels are high or too low
YOU are a member of your diabetes care team. Your doctor, certified diabetes educator dietitian or nurse are trained to individualize your care plan. Meet with the members of your team regularly and you will be successful in living well with diabetes.
TO YOUR HEALTH
Charmaine Vincent Haan,RD,LD/N,CDE