More than 25 million children and adults in the United States are suffering from diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. With so many Americans dealing with this 24-7 disease, more and more people are learning to monitor their blood sugar.
Keeping track of your blood glucose levels can be a daunting task. And although the rate of adults with diabetes who check their blood sugar on a daily basis has increased in the last 17 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, many still struggle with monitoring their disease.
But keeping track of your blood sugar doesn’t have to be stressful.
It’s possible to collect all the data you need to feel confident in your health — without feeling overwhelmed.
1. Keep a log book.
Writing down your numbers, the time you took it and other factors like whether or not it was before or after a meal, will help you to see how well your blood sugar is being controlled. You can use an Excel spreadsheet, a notebook and pen, or even the memory on your meter to keep track of this information.
You can also talk to your doctor about whether a continuous glucose monitor might be right for you.
2. Use a phone app.
In today’s technology-driven world, many diabetes patients are using their smart phones to keep track of their blood sugar levels and even getting suggestions on meal plans. The American Association of Diabetes offers an app that helps patients set goals to achieve success in healthy eating, being active, monitoring and reducing risks of complications.
3. Set realistic goals.
Your plan needs to be attainable and flexible.
You have to be able to check your blood sugar often enough that you know you are living well with the disease, but not so often that you are stressing out about monitoring your glucose levels.
You really won’t learn any more about the status of your disease by checking it 10 times a day as opposed to three or four times.
4. Set an alarm.
Set an alarm on your clock, radio, phone or computer to remind you to check your blood sugar. Some of the blood sugar-tracking phone apps also offer alarm options.
5. Build a diabetes team.
Gather a team of healthcare professionals and emotional supporters to help you keep track of your disease and encourage you when you are feeling overwhelmed. This team could include your primary care physician, an endocrinologist, a diabetes educator, a dietitian, a pharmacist, a social worker and/or a family member.
6. Join a community group.
Many cities in the area offer help to diabetes patients in the form of community support groups.
Connecting with other people dealing with your disease can be a great way to alleviate the stress of having to cope with diabetes on a daily basis.
7. Take a class.
If you are newly-diagnosed or just want some more information about diabetes, you can attend a diabetes self-management class. Find a class or event near you.
8. Find resources.
There are several websites geared toward diabetes patients. Make use of the resources out there on the internet for healthy recipes, exercise ideas and tips for managing your blood sugar.
By collecting data, you can see what you need to do to maintain or improve your diabetes management. If your numbers are in the range they’re supposed to be, then you can continue what you’re doing. But if your numbers aren’t where they should be, then you might need to start looking for problem areas.
Remember that your blood sugar is not a report card — it’s not pass or fail. Although these numbers don’t define you, keeping track is a powerful way to know if you’re managing your disease well.
Learn more about diabetes education and support at Baylor Scott & White Health.