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Managing your blood glucose levels

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Regular monitoring is key

There are a few things that can help manage your diabetes day-to-day. If you’re on sulphonylureas, meglitinides and insulin, regular monitoring of your blood sugar and blood glucose levels is as important as keeping your levels under control. This is because it can indicate to your healthcare team if your treatment needs to be altered and can decrease the risk of any complications in the future.

Testing your blood glucose level at home

Always follow the advice of your GP or diabetic nurse about self-testing your glucose levels, but generally the recommended frequency of testing is:

Type 1 diabetes: Depending on the treatment you’re on you should be testing four times a day or up to 10 if you’re using an insulin pump.

Type 2 diabetes: Not everyone with type 2 diabetes will need to monitor their levels. Discuss with your healthcare team what’s right for you. It’s important to balance what you eat and how active you are with any medication or insulin injections. If any of these are out of balance, your blood glucose levels can become too high (hyperglycaemia), or too low (hypoglycaemia). Find out more about hypers and hypos here.

Managing your insulin: Carbohydrate counting can be an effective way to manage type 1 diabetes. It is a way of matching your insulin requirements with the amount of carbohydrates you eat and drink.

What are normal blood glucose levels?

Everyone’s target range is different depending on what treatment you’re on, but your levels before you eat should be:

glucose blood levels

What do your readings mean?

4mmol/l or below is too low and there’s a possibility of a hypoglycaemic attack. For our advice on how to treat a hypo, find our more on our hypers and hypos page here.

4-7mmol/l is the normal and ideal range for your blood glucose levels. Keeping this level of control also reduces your chances of developing future complications.

9mmol/l or above means your blood glucose level is too high. Over sustained periods this could increase your chances of developing complications. If you have type 2 diabetes and this happens, there is no need to worry. If you’re using insulin you can use your glucose readings to see if you need to take more. If you have type 1 diabetes and stay at these levels, check your blood for ketones with a ketone testing kit which may indicate a lack of carbohydrate. It’s also advisable to ask your GP for more information as you may need to increase your insulin or take an extra dose.

It is important to monitor any high levels of ketones as it can lead to serious complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This is where the body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones and runs out of insulin. If your blood sugar is 11mmol/L or over and you have a blood or urine ketone testing kit, check your ketone levels.

What is a glucose tolerance test?

The Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT), also referred to as the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), is a test which can help diagnose insulin resistance or diabetes mellitus. The method is used to define whether your body has difficulty metabolising intake of sugar and carbohydrate. It can also help diagnose gestational diabetes in pregnant women and pre-diabetes.

We can test your blood glucose levels

At LloydsPharmacy, we have experts in stores who can test your blood glucose levels, sometimes referred to as blood sugar levels. Find your nearest LloydsPharmacy for a type 2 diabetes screening.

Diet and diabetes

What is the glycaemic index?
Being aware of the amount of carbohydrate in food and drinks is important for managing your glucose levels. Find out more about the glycaemic index here