Do I Need Regular Glucose Checks?
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012 when my A1C reached 6.6 percent. I have been treating it with changes in my eating plan. I check my A1C every three months or so, and the results have ranged from 5.6 to 6. I have never checked my glucose levels with a meter, as my doctors say it is unnecessary. Do I need regular checks? Norman Baxley, Columbia, South Carolina
Christy L. Parkin, MSN, RN, CDE, responds:
You are certainly on the right track in managing your type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes.
What to Know
When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, a result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher indicates diabetes. The best “medicine” we have to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes is a healthy diet and regular physical activity. In the early stages of type 2, small changes in lifestyle can make a big difference. Losing a few pounds, eliminating sugary drinks, or starting an exercise program can help you achieve blood glucose levels that are below the diagnosis point.
Find Out More
There is no strong evidence to support blood glucose testing in people with type 2 diabetes who do not take diabetes medications. However, self-monitoring of blood glucose can provide valuable day-to-day information about your levels, while the A1C test looks at the “big picture” over the past two to three months.
It can be useful to check occasionally at fasting and periodically before and after a meal because it gives “snapshot” information at a point in time. This allows you the opportunity to take immediate action in addressing your nutrition and physical activity. Also, during periods of stress, illness, surgery, or steroid use, blood glucose levels can be elevated, so testing may be indicated. If lifestyle interventions aren’t keeping up with increasing blood sugars, then it may be time to talk to your doctor about medication.
If you and your doctors are satisfied with your A1C results, there may be no reason to use a meter. But diabetes can progress over time. If your A1C increases, you may want to keep a closer eye on your blood glucose levels by obtaining a blood glucose meter and learning how to do the simple test. It may give you a better sense of control over your diabetes. Plus, it can be very encouraging to see that your time and effort have paid off when you have a great A1C number.