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Patient Education on Diabetes Self-Monitoring

written by: Nadia iblagh • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/4/2010

Vitally important, diabetes patient education about self monitoring helps decrease and avoid complications of this serious disease.

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    Self-monitoring of blood glucose is part of the treatment diabetic patients should learn about, as it is the tool to prevent further complications, and to maintain the blood glucose level around the normal range. Diabetics should know how to check the glucose level, why and when. Also, it is crucial to know the emergency measures to be taken if the blood glucose level is found to be lower or higher than the normal range.

    Self-monitoring means that the patient should frequently check his blood glucose level to prevent blood glucose levels reaching high or low ranges. Usually a glucometer, a machine available at pharmacies, is used at home, as it is simple to operate. Blood sugar levels should be checked when there are symptoms of low blood glucose such as dizziness, sweating, chills and shaking, or if there are symptoms of high blood glucose level such as blurred vision, excessive thirst, sleepiness and frequent urination.

    For a diabetic patient, it is important to check the blood glucose level whenever taking new drugs or changing meal habits, as some drugs and food may interfere with the medications taken for diabetes.

    It is essential to keep some sugar units with the diabetic patient to take whenever the blood glucose level is found to be low. In case of a mild increase in blood glucose level, the patient should do some activities to utilize the extra sugar in the body. However, if the blood glucose level is found to be extremely high or extremely low (the health care provider should provide the patient with these values) then a physician is to be contacted immediately.There are serious complications that may occur if the physician is not contacted at the right time, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, hypoglycemic coma, and hyperglycemic coma.

    Other complications that may occur in the long term, if the blood glucose level is not kept controlled, are eye complications, diabetic neuropathy, diabetic nephropathy, gangrerene of the feet, skin and mucous membrane complications, hypertension, hyperlipedemia and coronary artery disease.

    By self-monitoring, the diabetic patient can help maintain the blood glucose level within the normal ranges and avoid unnecessary emergency complications that may occur, as well as prevent or decrease the complication that may occur in the long term, and live a normal life as much as possible.