If you are someone who must monitor your blood sugar readings daily, you will start to get a feel for your patterns—what your blood sugar typically runs when you live the life that is normal for you. However, there will be times when what you see on the meter seems too high or too low to fit into your typical patterns. Remember that your blood sugar will not be perfectly on target every day, but if you start to see numbers that are a little suspect, here’s a checklist to go through when you need to troubleshoot why your readings might seem ‘off.’
Evaluate how your day might have been different than it usually is:
Did you eat more than you usually eat?
Did you forget to eat or skip a meal?
Did you eat different foods than usual due to eating out or at an event?
Did you exercise more or less than usual in the last 24 hours?
Did you experience an unusual amount of stress?
Did you wake up much earlier or later than usual?
Did you forget your medication or mix up your dose?
Was your blood glucose test accurate? Think about the following:
Did you use a large enough blood sample?
Did you prick yourself in area with swelling or peripheral neuropathy (numbness/tingling)?
Were your strips left open and exposed to water or too much light?
Was your meter left in a very hot or very cold car?
Is your meter more than 4 years old?
Were your hands clean and dry when you tested? (Food residue could cause a false high.)
Have you run a control test on your meter (your control solution would come from the pharmacy)?
Are you using the same meter you always use?
Are you comparing two tests done back-to-back and are suspicious because they differ from one another? Remember that your blood glucose measured at any one moment is going to vary by as much as 15-20% as a test taken immediately afterward on another finger.
If you have a meter that requires a code-chip be changed for each new bottle of strips that you use, does your chip in your meter match the strips you are using?
If you have looked at this list and there is no reason why your blood sugar may be out of range, check with your provider’s office. They may want you to come in and compare your readings against their office glucometer, or check for other problems you may be having. Your nurse or Certified Diabetes Educator can assist you with going back to basics, as it never hurts to re-learn the steps for measuring your blood sugar correctly. Remember, the more that you act like a scientist studying yourself—writing down measurements, taking readings, and recording how you feel—and share this information with your care team, the more successful you will be.