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Does your family know these blood glucose facts?

23 November 2019

This year, the focus of World Diabetes Day is all about family and diabetes, and we are celebrating by taking a close look at how families support each other in managing health. Can diabetes actually help families start conversations on ways to improve health? We think so - especially when families understand the everyday aspects of managing diabetes as well as family members own individual health needs.

When it comes to managing diabetes, understanding blood glucose is key. If blood glucose (or “blood sugar”) levels get too high or too low, it can impact mood, well-being, and even long-term health. We’ve put the following blood glucose facts together to share with your loved ones so the whole family can get involved. Consider turning it into a quiz game and let your family test their knowledge!

How many factors contribute to your blood glucose level?

Many people associate blood glucose with food, and it is true that your blood glucose levels are directly tied to what you eat, how much you eat, and when. But it is also true that there are other factors that can contribute to your blood glucose level at any given moment, 42 in fact, according to Adam Brown, author of Bright Spots and Landmines. This can include how much sleep you got the night before, whether you are sick or not, any allergies you have, how stressed you are, and even if you have a sunburn.

Could the 'ideal' blood glucose range be different for different people?

Yes! Even when you factor in how different blood glucose levels are before or after a meal, those levels might differ from person to person. An individual’s target range may vary depending on their lifestyle, their needs and preferences and the type of treatment they are using.

Do blood glucose levels stay the same throughout the day?

No, they fluctuate over time. The time of day can impact your blood glucose based on your activities and your levels will be lower before meals than right after. There is no 'one number' to aim for all day to be healthy.

What kinds of foods can help keep blood glucose levels in the safe zone?

Not all foods are made the same. Even among carbohydrate-heavy foods that can lead to high blood glucose, some foods have a high glycemic index and are more rapidly broken down into sugar. On the other end of the spectrum, foods high in whole grains or fibre — like vegetables or oatmeal—break down much more slowly and have been shown to help people with diabetes manage blood glucose levels effectively.1

Can you always feel it when your blood glucose gets too high or too low?

Not necessarily. For some people, hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) or hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) effects can be intense, but that is not always the case.

For people on some treatment types, like insulin and certain tablets, hypoglycemia is possible. It can lead to dizziness, sleepiness, and irritability among other symptoms, while hyperglycemia can cause symptoms like dry mouth, weakness, and headaches. But often those symptoms do not appear until blood glucose gets very low or very high, and some people might not experience any of these symptoms at all.

It is not a good idea to judge if your levels are off based only on how you feel.2 Taking a moment to check your levels by using a blood glucose meter or continuous glucose monitor will help provide you with information so you can take better decisions about what actions to take to get back in range.

Is there one right way to monitor blood glucose?

There are many ways to monitor blood glucose. To check, some people use blood glucose meters with test strips, or an all-in-one meter and test cassette. Others use continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) that are either implanted in their bodies or attached to them. There are also hybrid monitors called “flash glucose meters” that can monitor blood glucose continuously and offer instant readings. Each person is different, so it’s important to discuss your individual needs with your healthcare team.

How many different ways are there to monitor blood glucose long-term?

Just one! Long-term blood glucose management is measured with a test called a Haemoglobin HbA1c, which measures average blood glucose levels over a three-month period. Your healthcare professional will decide how often the HbA1c test should be done but is usually measured every 3-6 months.


Download our NICE to know leaflet to discover how to get checking for the right reasons!


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The views expressed in the Accu-Chek blog are not necessarily those of Roche Diabetes Care Limited or our publishers. The content is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely – you must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content. Although we make reasonable efforts to ensure that the content is up to date, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content is accurate, complete or up-to-date.