Diabetes Self Management, Testing and Monitoring

Make the Most of Your Health Care Appointments

Successful diabetes self-management starts with you!

It is important that you schedule regular appointments with the healthcare provider who treats your diabetes, your certified diabetes educator, your eye doctor, your dietitian, and dentist.

You may also have your own specialists such as an endocrinologist, cardiologist, foot doctor, pharmacist or dermatologist, and maybe even a personal trainer!

Make the most of your appointments by arriving with information on your blood glucose testing, exercise and maybe even food records. Make a list of questions that you have before you go—you might not remember the questions during the appointment.

How Often Should You See Your Healthcare Provider?

If your blood sugar is not well-controlled, you need to work with your healthcare provider closely to develop an effective treatment plan. If you are on oral medications and diet control, see your healthcare provider every four to six months. If you are on insulin, you should see your healthcare provider every three to four months. If you suspect a problem, call as soon as possible.

What Information Should I Have For My Healthcare Provider?

Bring your meter and blood glucose logs. Your healthcare provider and/or diabetes educator may have provided you with log sheets they prefer. In addition to tracking the numbers, you should make note of any unusual symptoms and when they occur. Also, note any of the following: shortness of breath, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, cramping or pain in the legs, blurred vision, swelling, weakness or excessive weight loss or gain. If you will be seeing your dietitian, bring your food intake logs along with blood sugar information. All of your healthcare providers should have a current list of all your medications and supplements.

What Are Some Common Questions I Should Ask?

  • How often should I test my blood sugar?
  • My meter seems to be malfunctioning-can your office help?
  • What blood sugar values are of concern that I should call or come in ASAP?
  • What should I do if I feel low blood sugar (hypoglycemia?)
  • Should I call if I seem to have an infection in a cut?
  • I am going away on a trip-how should I plan to manage my diabetes? What supplies do I need?
  • I am going to have minor surgery (tooth pulled, ingrown toenail, etc), and I wanted you to be aware.
  • What precautions should I take?
  • When I have the flu and cannot keep food and drink down, what should I do?
  • What should I weigh, and can you help me with weight loss?
  • I am not sure about carbohydrates and what I really should be eating; can you refer me to a dietitian?

What Tests Should I Be Tracking For My Own Health Management?

  • HbA1c – glycosylated hemoglobin or A1C – Check at least twice a year
  • Daily blood sugar – your healthcare provider will require a certain number of times a day, and at what time
  • Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides
  • Blood pressure (if you have a cuff at home and have hypertension)
  • Thyroid—if you have thyroid problems
  • Weight-weigh yourself regularly so you can prevent obesity or react to unwanted weight loss
  • Dental, eye and foot exams

Blood Glucose Monitors

Blood glucose monitors, or “meters” have come a long way over the years. There are many brands and varieties to choose from. They are easy to use, small, fast, and require a very small amount of blood.

You will also need a lancet device, which pricks your finger with a spring-loaded action. You load a lancet into the device. The test strips are chemically designed to transfer the drop of blood into your meter to read the results.

Your meter will have a large display window for the blood glucose value. The meter also stores this information for retrieval at a later time.

Follow the instructions for calibrating the meter for use and care. There should be a toll-free number that came with your meter’s instructions that you can call anytime if you need help.

Learn more about the latest blood glucose monitors available to you by visiting DiabetesCare.net’s Diabetes Product Directory.

What is the A1C Test?

Hemoglobin A1C; glycosylated hemoglobin; HbA1c

This test gives average blood glucose over the last two-three months. Your A1C should be checked every three months if your blood glucose is not meeting target ranges. Once you are stable, every six months is recommended.

This test measures the amount of blood glucose attached to red blood cells. If your blood has higher than normal amounts of “sugar” in it over time, the red blood cells can get “sticky” from too much contact with the glucose. Red blood cells have a lifespan of three months, and so as you improve your blood glucose control, your A1C will improve over time.

Normal A1C is six percent. Your target is seven percent or less.

A1c and Long-Term Complications

You can estimate your average glucose over the three months from your A1C number with this calculation:

A1C level x (multiplied by) 33.3 – 86 = average blood glucose level for the past 90 days.

The following chart is an easy way to understand what your A1C means in average glucose levels:


A1c (percent) Estimated Average Glucose
6 126
6.5 140
7 154
7.5 169
8 183
8.5 197
9 212
9.5 226
10 240
10.5 255