How to accurately measure blood glucose at home
Blood glucose (which can also be known as blood sugar) is the concentration of glucose that is present in your blood. One affordable and easy way to test your blood glucose levels from the comfort of your home is by using a home blood glucose test which will tell you how effectively your body is able to process your dietary intake of glucose by monitoring your current blood glucose level.
One useful device to measure blood glucose concentration at home is the Omron digital glucometer, which can allow you to easily monitor your blood sugar content. Accu-Chek glucose monitor is another suitable alternative
The home glucose monitor uses glucose testing strips which allows the machine to analyze the concentration of glucose present in a single drop of blood.
In order to obtain the blood, individuals typically use a small needle or a lancet. It is important to thoroughly clean your hands first for sanitary reasons. Sometimes, individuals are requested to fast before they have a blood test for a short period of time.
Why Should I be fasting before testing my blood glucose?
Testing the blood plasma levels of a particular biomarker is best done when the patient has not consumed any calories/nutrients atleast 12 hours prior to a test. This removes any issues with calibration, effect of fats, carbohydrates or any other dietary constituents that may affect the test reagents and also the body is considered to be at resting state during the short fasting period – which is the baseline state to compare repeat blood tests against.
There is a range of blood tests that require individuals to avoid consuming food such as:
Fasting blood tests which are used for diagnosing diabetes
Iron blood tests which measure the levels of iron that are present in your blood
Vitamin B12 test
Gamma-glutamyl transferase test which is used to help diagnose individuals with liver disease
Fasting is especially important in advance of a blood glucose test. Eating before the test can prevent an accurate reading of your blood sugar levels and whether or not they are healthy, or there may be some indication of diseases such as diabetes.
What is the normal range for blood glucose by age?
Normal blood glucose levels can differ depending on the age of the individual. For children under the age of six, their blood sugar levels should fall between 80 to 200mg/dL.
It is common to have a blood sugar level of 80-180mg/dL after fasting for 8 hours, 100-180 mg/dL before a meal, around 180 mg/dL an hour or two after eating and 110-200 mg/dL around bedtime.
Normal blood sugar levels for teens (aged 13-19) should range between 70 and 150 mg/dL. After fasting for a period of 8 hours 70-150 mg/dL is common. 90-130 mg/dL is typical after a meal with levels of up to 140 mg/dL 1-2 hours after eating a meal. Around bedtime blood, sugar levels should be around 90-150 mg/dL.
Normal blood sugar levels for adults should range between 100 and 180 mg/dL during the day, less than 100 mg/dL after fasting for 8 hours, between 70 and 130 mg/L before a meal, less than 180 mg/dL 1-2 hours after eating a meal and between 100 and 140 mg/dL around bedtime.
How Do You Convert mmol/L to mg/dl Or mg/dl to mmol/L?
Simple conversion conversion for
understanding blood glucose levels:
mmol multiply by 18 = mg/dl
mg/dl divided by 18 = mmol/L
5.3mmol/L ✕ 18 = 95.4mg/dl (normal range)
138mg/dl ÷ 18 = 7.67mmol/L (diabetic range)
What should I do if my blood glucose is low?
If your blood glucose is low (which is also known as hypoglycaemia) you should take action quickly as an extremely low blood glucose level can be dangerous if left untreated.
Low blood sugar may occur due to:
Forgetting to eat something after an insulin injection
Taking a higher insulin dose, forgetfully (common in elderly or low literate patients)
Medication side effects for other comorbidities
Underlying infection eg. pneumonia, urinary tract infection, ear infection
Excessive and prolonged physical or mental stress
Exposure to environmental stress such as extreme cold or heat (especially in neglected elderly care)
Since the main fuel for your central nervous system is glucose, below threshold levels can drastically affect the neurons in your brain. If blood sugar falls too low for too long, the diabetic patient may even go into a coma and/or suffer neurological effects.
Early symptoms of low blood sugar levels can include feeling hungry, fatigued, sweating, becoming pale and heart palpitations. Without a glucose intake (orally or intravenously) the patient may become delirious, combative, have slurred speech and progress to altered states of consciousness.
Low blood sugar can often be treated by either having a sugary snack (eg. small glass of fruit juice or drink water with a teaspoon of honey) and make sure to have a meal containing a slow-release carbohydrate (eg. oatmeal cookie, multigrain cereal) earlier in advance.
Many experienced/informed diabetics often carry small sweets or a juice box with them when they are out of their homes.
Dr. Sheela says,
In the elderly, or patients with long standing poor control of their diabetes, their nerves may be partially damaged. Therefore any precipitous drop in blood sugar may not be signalled to the brain – to take emergency action such seeking nutrients or calling for help.
Caregivers and the patient should be aware of this phenomena and be vigilant with their regular blood sugar testing and checkups.
How can I Decrease my High Blood Glucose?
High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) can be safely reduced in a variety of different ways, without excessive reliance on prescription medications.
Moderate Physical Activity
This can include exercising regularly which can help you to stay in shape as well as increasing the sensitivity of your insulin receptors to the hormone insulin which means that your cells are better able to manage the sugar levels within your system. Exercise also uses up blood sugar as it is a necessary component for muscle contraction and energy.
Moderate Carbohydrate Intake
Individuals with high sugar levels should also make sure to be mindful of their carbohydrate intake. This is because carbohydrates are broken down by your body into sugars (predominantly glucose) which is stored in the body when insulin is released.
If you have insulin-related problems or consume an excess of carbohydrates, this process is impeded which can cause your blood glucose levels to rise dramatically. This occurrence can be prevented by making sure to be aware of how many carbs you are consuming, opting for lower options, and planning out your meals and mealtimes.
How to Check Blood Glucose During Pregnancy
It is important for individuals who are pregnant to carefully keep track of their blood glucose levels. In some instances, some pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that develops during pregnancy and often begins during the middle to end of the pregnancy, in obese mothers it may begin earlier.
Pregnant individuals can check their blood sugar levels using a home glucose monitor, additionally pregnant individuals will also have an HbA1C test which will inform them of their average blood glucose levels over the last 2 to 3 months. Individuals who have already been diagnosed with diabetes and those who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes are encouraged to have their HbA1c levels inspected.
At What Blood Glucose Levels will I be Diagnosed as a Diabetic?
Levels above 126 mg/dl on two separate occasions is an immediate diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
Individuals with a fasting blood sugar level ranging between 160-240 mg/dL are considered to be at very high levels – with above 240 mg/dL being out of control of their diabetes.
Between 100-125 mg/dl is labelled as pre-diabetes. A sort of border zone whereby a strong commitment towards sustained lifestyle changes – involving dietary control, increased physical activity, smoking cessation, decreasing alcohol intake, managing personal stresses can prevent further progression to higher glucose levels on a repeat blood test 4-6 months later.
What are the Risks of Uncontrolled Diabetes?
Diabetes is a multisystem disorder, with irreversible cellular damage to almost every cell in the body – from your eyes, all the way down to your toes.
If left uncontrolled over several months, diabetes can have a variety of effects on a range of different bodily systems. These can include increasing the risk of developing severe eye problems which may result in blindness, foot problems that may affect circulation, increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, induce kidney problems as well as damage your nerves due to the high sugar concentrations.
Dr. Sheela says,
Uncontrolled diabetes is the main cause of long lasting suffering (physically, emotionally and financially) for a great proportion of the entire global adult population.
Diabetes is often uncontrolled due to ignorance, poor compliance, difficulties accessing quality healthcare guidance and the various social determinants that many face, daily.
Is there a Cure for Diabetes?
There are billion dollar grants towards a sustainable cure for this deadly disease. Pharmaceutical corporations and healthcare startups are attempting to create novel solutions towards preventing diabetes in the first place to even reversing the neurovascular damage that is already taking place.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for diabetes. There are interesting trials involving the use of pancreas transplants (between animal species or even cadaveric transplants) to even artificial pancreatic tissue which can simulate the insulin managing capacity of their Beta-cell counterparts.
When should I speak to a Diabetes Specialist?
If you are concerned about your blood sugar levels and are experiencing symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue, dry mouth, and high heart rate you should consult your primary care doctor.
Most cases of early stage diabetes can be best managed by your primary care physician, who can guide you towards effective lifestyle changes, nutritional guidance and help monitor your progress.
Many healthcare systems have collaborated with digital health solutions such as remote patient monitoring devices, where wirelessly connected glucose monitors and other home health devices can send regularly collected health data to the clinic’s database. This data can be reviewed by the healthcare team to steer your efforts in the right direction.
In instances where your diabetes is not being managed well, you may have to consider specialist review of your situation, to create a personalized treatment plan.
What instances should you consider a diabetes specialist consult?
Referral by your primary care physician
Long standing poor diabetes control as measured by worsening blood glucose and HbA1C tests
Comorbidities such as heart disease, kidney failure, cancer
At risk of diabetic complications as measured by high blood lipid levels
Past history of significant diabetic complications eg. stroke, heart attack, blindness, recurrent infections, diabetic foot
Strong family history (multiple first generation) of chronic diseases and/or early death from diabetic complications
Did you know other chronic diseases can complicate diabetes care?
Read our associated blogs to know more….
Is Telemedicine Useful in Diabetes Management?
Telemedicine is one of the most innovative strategies to reach out to at-risk patients in a timely and effective manner. Remote virtual care has been proven to be the best method to increase access to diabetic patients (who are often elderly, bed bound or unable to make the physical trip) and provide a comprehensive care package by the right healthcare professional.
Telemedicine is an ideal tool to merge with other digital health solutions as mentioned, namely remote patient monitoring devices (RPM) and electronic health records (EHR) to create a ‘Telehealth’ infrastructure.
The Telemedicine provider is able to provide a safe and engaging virtual care experience to listen to the grievances of long standing chronic diseases sufferers, view digital health records, provide/review prescriptions and practically guide the caregivers towards best practices in better glucose control, from the patient’s homes.
As Telemedicine is the buzzword of the 2020 pandemic, future researchers will need to compile all the epidemiological data to truly assess the practical efficacy of telemedicine care for diabetes management. Currently patient subjective reports are unanimously supportive of this digital health solution.
How Will VIOS Help Me Manage My Blood Glucose & Diabetes?
There are instances when you are not able to utilise the full potential of telemedicine in the way that can bring you the greatest benefit. Many healthcare providers are not able to participate in remote virtual care due to the lack of insurance reimbursement, poor quality control, excess state regulations or a lack of quality telemedicine infrastructure to help the patient population.
At the VIOS Clinic, we have a curated selection of healthcare specialists from around the world, who are specifically trained and experienced in managing difficult clinical situations – such as poor diabetic control with complications.
- You get to choose your preferred provider
- Have a long conversation about diabetes management, that you had no idea was possible
- Learn about recent care updates
- Understand your medication regimen
- Get practical lifestyle counselling from healthcare experts
- Consider second opinions on your current diagnosis and treatment plan
The secure virtual Zoom session is the ideal platform to openly discuss your health issues, share your private medical data in an encrypted process (you can even screen share them!) and easily arrange a follow up session according to a time that is most convenient for you, from anywhere in the world.
Why Should I Choose VIOS?
Our VIOS Provider network is a quick and hassle-free telemedicine platform to allow people to choose their provider according to their clinical speciality, competency and their convenient availability – no matter where you are.
With direct out-of-pocket pay options, you no longer have to negotiate for prior insurance authorisation, travel far distances across cities or countries and most importantly of all, have a proper discussion with a clinical expert to guide you to practical tips on controlling your risks.
By choosing your provider, selecting the most convenient appointment that best suits your busy lives and engaging in a safe private virtual care session – you are already taking the first step in better care.
The Patient-First initiative is the ideal way to become an empowered (and informed) decision maker for what is best for you.
Download this free infographic to see why you should choose the VIOS Clinic for your health needs.
Let's have a chat with your Specialist
Dr. Ismail Sayeed
Dr. Sayeed is the Medical Director of ViOS, Inc. He is a deeply committed physician entrepreneur & medical blog writer. While building the global infrastructure of the VIOS Clinic, he is dedicated to educate people on the potential of specialist telemedicine for managing chronic diseases.
Read more about him in his author bio