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Blood Glucose

Glucose, a simple monosaccharide sugar, is one of the most important carbohydrates and used as a source of energy in animals and plants. Blood glucose (sugar) is the amount of glucose in your blood at a given time. When the amount of blood glucose (sugar in your blood) is higher than your target range it is called high blood glucose or hyperglycemia. When the amount of blood glucose (sugar in your blood) has dropped below your target range (less than 4 mmol/L) it is called low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.

Checking your blood glucose levels will:

  • Provide a quick measurement of your blood glucose level at a given time.
  • Determine if you have a high or low blood glucose level at a given time.
  • Show you how your lifestyle and medication affect your blood glucose levels.
  • Help you and your diabetes healthcare team to make changes to your lifestyle and medication that will improve your blood glucose levels.

A blood glucose meter is used to test your blood glucose at home. These meters can be purchased at most pharmacies. Talk with your diabetes educator or pharmacist about which model is right for you. Once you purchase a meter, make sure you receive the proper training before you begin to use it.

Ask your diabetes educator about:

  • the size of the drop of blood needed;
  • the type of blood glucose strips to use;
  • how to clean the meter;
  • how to check if the meter is accurate; and,
  • how to code your meter.

If you have diabetes, you should try to keep your blood glucose as close to target range as possible. This will help to delay or prevent complications of diabetes. Maintaining healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle, and taking medication, if necessary, will help you keep your blood glucose levels within their target range. Target ranges for blood glucose can vary. It depends on a person’s age, medical condition and other risk factors. Targets for pregnant women and children 12 years of age and under are different. Ask your doctor what your levels should be.

When you are sick, you blood glucose levels may fluctuate and be unpredictable. During these times, it is a good idea to test your blood glucose levels every two to four hours. It is also very important that you continue to take your diabetes medication. If you have a cold or flu and are considering using a cold remedy or cough syrup, ask your pharmacist to help you make a good choice. Since many cold remedies and cough syrups contain sugar, try to pick a sugar-free product.

When you are ill, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you:

  • Drink plenty of extra sugar-free fluids or water.
  • Replace solid food with fluids that contain glucose, if you cannot eat according to your usual meal plan.
  • Try to consume 10 grams of carbohydrate every hour.
  • Call your doctor or go to an emergency room if you vomit more than twice in 12 hours.
  • If you take insulin, be sure to continue taking it while you are sick. You might need to take more than usual, depending on your blood glucose level