What Glucose Readings Can Tell You
Most people who have either Type I or Type II diabetes are urged to take blood glucose readings, often several times a day, in order to track the level of glucose in their blood. Even people who do not have diabetes but may have a tendency towards the disease may need to take glucose readings.
Understanding glucose readings is not quite as simple as taking one's pulse to measure the heart rate. Heart rate is usually somewhat low when we are at rest, and much higher when involved in physical activities. That is of course normal. Blood glucose readings on the other hand can at times seem to jump all over the place and are not always what one would have a reason to believe they should be for a given circumstance.
Some who really should be taking their glucose readings often stop simply because the readings don't often follow a predictable pattern. When it comes to our health, we like those things we measure to be somewhat predictable. If the measurements are abnormal, we at least know that some type of treatment may be called for. When taking glucose readings, an abnormal result doesn't necessarily mean anything, although a pattern of abnormal results usually does.
The main problem with measuring and predicting glucose levels is that these levels are influenced by a large number of things, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to isolate those things that affect glucose levels.
The Pancreas And The Liver - The key to the puzzle lies in the way the body produces and releases insulin, which regulates the way in which the body converts glucose into energy. The pancreas plays a major role here, as does the liver. If the pancreas is not releasing insulin as it should, be it too much or too little, things can rapidly get out of whack, as they can when the liver decides the body requires more glucose, and sends it into the bloodstream even when it is not needed. Glucose readings therefore, no matter under what conditions or time of the day they are taken, will depend upon what the pancreas and the liver are doing, or not doing, at the time.
Standard Levels To Follow - Standards have been set for blood glucose levels by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE). The standards differ somewhat, so a person's personal physician usually needs to decide which standard would be best to follow. Glucose readings should fall within the range specified by of one of the two standards, which for the ADA is 70-130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) before a meal, and less than 180 mg/dl following a meal. The AACE standard is that of less than 110 mg/dl before a meal and less than 140 mg/dl after a meal.
If one is taking insulin, when glucose readings that are too high, the last dose of insulin taken before a meal may have been too low. Either the dose should have been higher, or what was eaten was the factor. In general, the more carbohydrates, which are converted to sugar, one eats, the higher the dosage of insulin taken needs to be.
Look For Patterns - Glucose readings depend not only on the dosage of insulin, but also upon what has been eaten, how much time has elapsed since eating, and the time of day. Thus, many things contribute to the readings which will of course cause them to vary. A reading that is unexpectedly out of range should usually not be a matter for concern. However, a series or pattern of out-of-range readings should be, or in any event the doctor should be advised of them. Even if glucose readings seem often to make little sense, it should never be a reason to stop taking them. They mean something, even though the meaning is not always obvious.