July 10, 2012

Blood-sugar testing necessary

By DR. JONATHAN BEACH, Ask the Diabetes Doctor

---- — As I sit with patients at various stages in life, there always seems to be one common issue. The concern about blood-sugar testing.

Patients are always wondering if it is necessary and if there are any alternatives. Many patients tell me they can feel where their sugar is all the time and they don’t need to test. Others frequently tell me they don’t like to see the high sugars so they don’t test.

Most people can not accurately identify where their sugar is at all times. Many things can impact a blood sugar level, and if these events are not identified, then our treatment will not be successful.

For those that do not want to see the higher sugars: I completely understand and feel like that myself on occasion. The problem is that, in order to solve the issue of higher sugars, these events need to be clearly identified. If we don’t have the information about the issue, then it is impossible to solve the problem. However, please keep in mind that, regardless of actually seeing the sugars, the negative impact still occurs. Failure to properly identify and treat high sugars will lead to significant complications to diabetes.

Blood-sugar testing is an essential part of controlling the disease. When a patient checks their sugar level, they are providing data to their medical provider. That data can than be used to establish patterns of sugar fluctuation during the day. Once this information is reviewed, the proper treatment can be given.

For example, if the morning blood sugars are high, then the provider may consider adding a long acting basal insulin. Likewise, if the patient checks their sugars after eating, the need for pre-meal insulin therapy may be established. Thus, blood tests provide data that directs the therapy required to improve the patient’s health.

Blood tests also enable patients and providers to adjust doses. The amount of basal insulin given is determined by the morning blood sugars. I frequently have patients adjust the dose of long-acting insulin based on a three-day average of the morning sugars. If those sugars are above goal, then dose is increased, if below, the dose is decreased. Similar methods are used to adjust meal-time insulin as well.

Thus, blood-sugar testing is essential to properly control diabetes. Patients with diabetes need to test properly to determine medication doses and effectiveness. The more blood tests completed, the more data available to the medical provider to make treatment decisions. Be an active part of your disease and win the battle.