October 15, 2008
By: Doris Dickson for Diabetes1
One of the most effective methods of managing diabetes is by keeping a daily “diary” of blood sugar levels, food intake, insulin or medication, exercise, etc. Testing your blood sugar is necessary and most diabetics are instructed to do it. However, without keeping a detailed log containing blood sugar levels and other pertinent information, you may not know about trends that may be occurring or most importantly, why, so that you can either repeat or stop them.
What to Keep in a Log?
Since the body works as a whole and not just in a vacuum with food plus insulin or food plus medication equals perfection, it is important to make notations such as:
- blood sugar level
- type of food and accurate quantity (including carbohydrates and protein)
- exercise, type and duration
- insulin, or diabetes medication or other medications that affect blood sugar (such as cold medications or steroids) and quantity
- high levels of short-term stress (such as an argument or job interview
- notations of odd symptoms - warning signals of highs and lows can change over time
- other comments that provide input for trend analysis
To help you keep a log, there are many recordkeeping options available including everything from inexpensive, uncomplicated, spiral notebooks to computer spreadsheet programs to specialty diabetes logs and planners. You can create your own spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel or download one from the internet. Some glucose monitor manufacturers offer products that directly correlate to their meters. Those who are familiar with project management daily planners may want to look into the diabetes daily planners.
Benefits of Keeping a Detailed Log
Whatever method you choose, the benefits are extensive. You and/or your medical team may use the data to analyze such things as:
- effectiveness of oral medications
- effectiveness of meal plans (for those not taking medications or insulin)
- effects of specific exercise routines
- effects of specific foods on post-meal results
- basal insulin rates
- carb to insulin ratios
- effects of high levels of stress (immediate and otherwise)
- effects of an illness or hormone changes on basal and post-meal results
- new symptom correlation of high or low blood sugar
- effects of special medications such as steroids for asthma or cold medical such as those containing pseudoephedrine
- effects of weather such as increased insulin sensitivity (naturally made or injected) with high levels of heat
Using the data collection examples provided above and others, you will be more prepared to determine what works and what doesn’t work. In addition you can work with your medical team to assess your progress, choose different tools (such as medication, insulin, pumps, etc) that can help improve your control.
You will be more likely to know which foods or combinations of foods cause high blood sugar immediately or four hours later. Learn which over the counter medications to avoid, when exercise raises or lower your blood sugar, when you are most sensitive to insulin, or even if you have dawn phenomenon and thus, how to best deal with it. You will be better armed to be able to reign in control of your daily blood sugar, your A1C levels, and most importantly, feel good.