Managing your blood sugar
Know the basic steps for managing your diabetes to stay healthy. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to many health problems.
- Recognize and treat low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Recognize and treat high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
- Plan diabetes meals
- Monitor your blood sugar
- Take care of yourself when you are sick
- Find, buy, and store diabetes supplies
- Get the checkups you need
- Give yourself insulin
- Adjust your insulin doses and foods you eat to manage your blood sugar during exercise
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Try walking fast, swimming, or dancing.
- Follow your meal plan.
Take your medicines the way your doctor and nurse ask you to.
Check Your Blood Sugar Often
- Not everyone with diabetes needs to check their blood sugar every day. But some people may need to check it many times a day.
- If you have type 1 diabetes, check your blood sugar at least 4 times a day.
- After you eat out, especially if you have eaten foods you do not normally eat
- If you feel sick
- Before and after you exercise
- If you have a lot of stress
- If you eat too much
- If you are taking new medicines
- The time of day
- Your blood sugar level
- The amount of carbohydrates or sugar you ate
- The type and dose of your diabetes medicines or insulin
- The type of exercise you do and how long you exercise for
- Any unusual events, such as stress, eating different foods, or being sick
Many new glucose meters let you store this information.
You and your health care provider should set a target goal for your blood sugar levels for different times during the day. If your blood sugar is higher than your goals for 3 days and you do not know why, call your doctor or nurse.
Recommended Blood Sugar Targets
For people with type 1 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends the following blood sugar targets. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about these goals.
- From 90 - 130 mg/dl for adults
- From 90 - 130 mg/dl for children 13 - 19 years old
- From 90 - 180 mg/dl for children 6 - 12 years old
- From 100 - 180 mg/dl for children under 6 years old
- Less than 180 mg/dl for adults
- From 90 - 150 mg/dl for adults
- From 90 - 150 mg/dl for children 13 - 19 years old
- From 100 - 180 mg/dl for children 6 - 12 years old
- From 110 - 200 mg/dl for children under 6 years old
For people with type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends the following blood sugar targets. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about these goals.
- From 70 - 130 mg/dl for adults
- Less than 180 mg/dl for adults
Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C)
An HbA1C lab test shows how well you are controlling your blood sugar levels over a three-month period.
The normal level is less than 6%. Most people with diabetes should aim for an HbA1C of less than 7%. Some people have a higher target, however. Your doctor will tell you what your target should be.
Higher HbA1C numbers mean that your blood sugar is higher.
What to Do When Your Blood Sugar Is High or Low
- Are you eating too much or too little? Have you been following your diabetes meal plan?
- Are you taking your diabetes medicines correctly?
- Has your doctor changed your medicines?
- If you take insulin, have you been taking the correct dose?
- Are you afraid of having low blood sugar? Is that causing you to eat too much or take too little insulin or other diabetes medicine?
- Have you injected insulin into a scar or overused area? Have you been rotating sites?
- Have you been less or more active than usual?
- Do you have a cold, the flu, or another illness?
- Have you had some stress?
- Have you been checking your blood sugar every day?
- Have you gained or lost weight?
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if your blood sugar is too high or too low and you don’t understand why. When your blood sugars are in your target range, you will feel better and your health will be better.