Routine Testing of Blood Sugar Levels is Not Necessary

Filed Under: Blood Sugar, Blood Sugar Testing

One of the questions I often hear when I talk to people with diabetes is whether it’s necessary to constantly test their blood sugar level. Take J.M. from Texas, for example. He wrote to me routine testing of blood sugar levels not necessarysaying that he takes a drug to help manage blood sugar levels and that his doctor has him test those levels twice a day. Because he has insurance, it’s a manageable request—but it’s expensive and tiresome. So, he wondered, is it really necessary?

For individuals with type 1 diabetes, regular testing of blood sugar levels is essential because it may lead to adjustments in insulin dosing. But for those with type 2 diabetes, I feel that incessant testing is not only unnecessary, it’s debilitating.

When you test your levels, do you make any alterations in your treatment program? Do you use testing to identify foods that drive up blood sugar—and eliminate them from your diet? Does testing alter your medication dosage? If not, what’s the sense of it?

Two studies published in the British Medical Journal have come to similar conclusions. They found that self-monitoring of blood sugar levels did not improve glucose control but was associated with higher costs, lower quality of life, and more depression.

I believe a much better test of your blood sugar level is the hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) test. Whereas a finger stick gives you a snapshot of your blood sugar levels at a specific time, the HbA1C provides a broader picture of your average blood sugar level over two or three months.

This allows you to better evaluate how well your treatment plan is working long-term, and to make adjustments if necessary. Ask your doctor to test your hemoglobin A1C levels and see if you can do away with painful and time consuming daily glucose testing.

DISCLAIMER: The content of is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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