Monitor Your Health

Check Your Blood Glucose Levels

Checking and recording your blood glucose levels can help you monitor and better manage your diabetes. If your blood has too much or too little glucose, you may need a change in your healthy eating plan, physical activity plan, or medicines.

Target Range for Blood Glucose Levels

Most people with diabetes should try to keep their blood glucose levels as close as possible to the level of someone who doesn’t have diabetes. This normal target range is about 70 to 130. The closer to normal your blood glucose levels are, the lower your chance of developing serious health problems.

Ask your doctor what your target levels are and when you should check your blood glucose levels with a meter.

Another test for blood glucose, the A1Calso called the hemoglobin A1C test, HbA1C, or glycohemoglobin test—is a blood test that reflects the average level of glucose in your blood during the past 2 to 3 months.

You should have the A1C test at least twice a year. If your result is not on target, your doctor may have you take the test more often to see if your A1C improves.

For the test, your doctor will draw a sample of your blood during an office visit or send you to a lab to have your blood drawn. Your A1C test result is given as a percentage. Your A1C result plus the record of your blood glucose numbers show whether your blood glucose levels are under control.

  • If your A1C result is too high, you may need to change your diabetes treatment plan. Your health care team can help you decide what part of your plan to change.
  • If your A1C result is on target, then your diabetes treatment plan is working. The lower your A1C result, the lower your chance of having diabetes problems.

Talk with your doctor about what your A1C target should be. Your personal target may be above or below the following:

  • Target for most people with diabetes is below 7%
  • Target to change my diabetes care plan is equal to or above 8%

A1C targets can also depend on

  • how long you have had diabetes
  • whether or not you have other health problems

Tests for Ketones

You may need to check your blood or urine for ketones if you’re sick or if your blood glucose levels are above 240. Your body makes ketones when you burn fat instead of glucose for energy. If you have too many ketones, you are more likely to have a serious condition called ketoacidosis. If not treated, ketoacidosis can cause death.

Signs of ketoacidosis are

  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • fast breathing
  • sweet-smelling breath

Ketoacidosis is more likely in people with type 1 diabetes.

Your doctor or diabetes educator will show you how to test for ketones.

Keep Daily Records

Action Steps
If You Take Insulin

 Keep a daily record of

  • your blood glucose levels
  • the times of day you take insulin
  • the amount and type of insulin you take
  • what types of physical activity you do and for how long
  • when and what you eat
  • whether you have ketones in your blood or urine
  • when you are sick

Action Steps
If You Don’t Take Insulin

Keep a daily record of

  • your blood glucose levels
  • the times of day you take your medicines
  • what types of physical activity you do and for how long

Learn how to live with diabetes

Cope with your diabetes.

  • Stress can raise your blood sugar. Learn ways to lower your stress. Try deep breathing, gardening, taking a walk, meditating, working on your hobby, or listening to your favorite music.
  • Ask for help if you feel down. A mental health counselor, support group, member of the clergy, friend, or family member who will listen to your concerns may help you feel better.

Eat well.

  • Make a diabetes meal plan with help from your health care team.
  • Choose foods that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Eat foods with more fiber, such as whole grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta.
  • Choose foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, bread and cereals, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese.
  • Drink water instead of juice and regular soda.
  • When eating a meal, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with a lean protein, such as beans, or chicken or turkey without the skin, and one quarter with a whole grain, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Be active.

  • Set a goal to be more active most days of the week. Start slow by taking 10 minute walks, 3 times a day.
  • Twice a week, work to increase your muscle strength. Use stretch bands, do yoga, heavy gardening (digging and planting with tools), or try push-ups.
  • Stay at a healthy weight by using your meal plan and moving more.

Know what to do every day.

  • Take your medicines for diabetes and any other health problems even when you feel good. Ask your doctor if you need aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Tell your doctor if you cannot afford your medicines or if you have any side effects.
  • Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling. Call your health care team right away about any sores that do not go away.
  • Brush your teeth and floss every day to keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy.
  • Stop smoking. Ask for help to quit.
  • Keep track of your blood sugar. You may want to check it one or more times a day. Use the card at the back of this booklet to keep a record of your blood sugar numbers. Be sure to talk about it with your health care team.
  • Check your blood pressure if your doctor advises and keep a record of it.

Talk to your health care team.

  • Ask your doctor if you have any questions about your diabetes.
  • Report any changes in your health.

Actions you can take

check mark Ask for a healthy meal plan.

check mark Ask about ways to be more active.

check mark Ask how and when to test your blood sugar and how to use the results to manage your diabetes.

check mark Use these tips to help with your self-care.

check mark Discuss how your diabetes plan is working for you each time you visit your health care team.