Diabetes: Six times to measure your blood sugar levels

Diabetes type 1 sufferers need to control blood sugar levels to avoid complications.

The condition is caused by the immune system attacking the pancreas, stopping it producing insulin and removing the body’s ability to control blood sugar.

Symptoms of the condition include extreme thirst, hunger and unexplained weight loss.

If blood sugar levels get too low this could cause a seizure or nervous system damage.

Dr David Cavan, a diabetes medical expert with over 20 years experience and author of ‘Take Control of Type 1 Diabetes’ said sufferers should measure blood sugar levels at these six times.

Before injecting insulin

“It is the most important time to know your blood sugar level,” Dr Cavan wrote in his new book.

“It is potentially dangerous to inject insulin if you do not know your current level of blood sugar.

“Furthermore, intensive management of diabetes type 1 requires that you adjust the dose of insulin if your blood sugar level is too low or too high.”

When you’re in bed or after waking up

These are often times to inject insulin, said Dr Cavan, “but if not it is still a good idea to check your blood sugar at these times”.

This, he continued, would enable a “correction dose” to be given to help maintain blood sugar levels.

Just before driving

Dr Cavan added it was important to check blood sugar levels before jumping behind the wheel.

“The main concern here is hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar,” he explained, “as this can severe impair coordination and reaction times, increasing the risk of an accident that might cause injury to you or another person”.

Before, during and after physical activity

As exercise affects blood sugar levels, these should be monitored.

“Any physical activity will affect your blood sugar level, and sometimes more than you might anticipate,” said Dr Cavan.

“It is essential to check blood sugar before and during more active activities such as sports.”

When feeling ill

“Any infection or illness can cause a rise in blood sugar levels that might require you to take additional insulin, even if you are off your food,” Dr Cavan wrote.

“This is even more important if you also have evidence of increased ketones.”

He added that if blood sugar levels are “higher than expected” they should be checked every two hours.

After eating

“As a rule it is generally sufficient to check your sugar levels before meals, but sometimes it will also be important to do so about two hours afterwards,” the Doctor continued.

“This will be the case if you are not entirely sure of the carbohydrate content of what you have eaten.”

Blood sugar levels should be maintained at 3.5/5.5 mmol/l before meals, according to charity Diabetes UK.

Dr David Cavan’s book, ‘Take Control of Type 1 Diabetes’, can be purchased for £14.99 from diabetes.co.uk.