The ABCs of self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG)
If every diabetes diagnosis came with a medical dictionary that explained health terms in an easy-to-understand language it would make diabetes management easier. But until one is available, here is some basic information about blood glucose self-monitoring to help you become better informed.
Testing your blood glucose regularly is the key to successful diabetes management. To help you, there are a variety of blood glucose monitoring systems available. These include:
• Blood glucose meter—an electronic device that reads the amount of glucose in a blood sample
• Test strips—a special strip that absorbs the blood sample and is inserted into a blood glucose meter
• Lancing device—a tool that holds a lancet
• Lancets—needles that prick the skin
Blood glucose results are measured in numeric values followed by “mg/dL,” which stand for “milligrams per deciliter,” or “mmol/L,” which stands for “millimols per liter.” If your result is 104, it means you have the equivalent of 104 milligrams of blood glucose in a deciliter of blood, which is equal to 5.5 mmol/L.
Types of tests
There are basically two types of self-monitoring tests that you can do on a daily basis.
• Fasting or “just before mealtime” testing can help you determine how much blood glucose is in your body before you eat and help you see how insulin or other medications are working to keep your blood glucose under control during the day.
• Postprandial or “after-meal” testing (1–2 hours after the start of a meal) allows you to see how certain foods may affect your blood glucose levels.
Another test performed by your healthcare team is the A1c test. This quarterly test measures your blood glucose by seeing what percentage of your hemoglobin A1c (red blood) cells have been glycated (had glucose attached to them). The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a target A1c of 7%.