How Logging Data Can Help Improve Your Diabetes Control
Hey everyone, Matt here. I teamed up with Leah from The.Insulin.Type to share some tips and tricks to make documentation a little easier! She also does an incredible job of explaining why it is so important to take note of every day trends to make blood sugars easier to predict. Read on to see what she has to say!
Hi, my name is Leah (@the.insulin.type) and I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for 12 years! Just like most of you, I’m sure, I’ve had my fair share of struggles and successes with diabetes. Over the years, I’ve found that diabetes actually becomes EASIER when I pay more attention to it, yet, when I pay more attention to it, I don’t have to worry about it as much. That sounds backwards - I know, but it’s true. The more I manage my diabetes, the less managing I actually have to do because diabetes becomes a lot more predictable.
“It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.”- Tim Berners-Lee
One of the best ways that I’ve found helps me manage my diabetes is to make sure that I log everything from blood sugars, to insulin doses, to the food that I eat. It sounds painstaking, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Here’s why you should log your blood sugars and insulin doses:
Safety and security. My doctor posed this question once, that if something happens, for example, a car accident, can you better defend yourself with months of data, or none, that prove you take care of yourself…?
The only way to improve is to have data to base decisions on. Simple.
Your doctor can assist much easier with a complete picture. I see this one a lot on Instagram. People are frustrated when their doctors ask why their blood sugar was high on a certain day. They just want to help, so having the data helps them help you!
Make future insulin doses easier. I’m sure you’ve been there before. Trying to remember how much insulin you gave last time for a certain meal. Take the guessing game away and just write it down for future reference! If you log your blood sugar a few hours after, you can also see if your dose should remain the same, or change!
See trends. This one is huge for basal rates (background, long-acting insulin). If your blood sugar is consistently high at the same time each day, you’d never know unless you have the data to see it, and with data, you can fix it!
Prevent insulin “stacking” (for MDI users). Stacking insulin means that you’re taking more insulin before your previous dose was finished. Fast acting insulin like Novolog usually lasts three hours and then no longer has an impact on blood sugar. If you’re taking shots (MDI, multiple daily injections), it’s best to record every injection to prevent insulin stacking, which could lead to low blood sugars.
Great tools to help track your data:
CGM/fCGM. Diabetes technology has advanced so far in the last five years, it is incredible. A CGM, Continuous Glucose Monitor, will measure interstitial fluid and provide continual glucose readings to a receiver without the user having to interact with the device. An fCGM is referred to as a flash CGM as it requires the user to swipe over the area to get readings; fCGMs do not provide alerts or alarms for out of range values. Dexcom and Medtronic are both CGMs and the Freestyle Libre is an fCGM. I’ve personally used the Medtronic Enlite CGM and the Dexcom G6. Both are great options for having a 24/7 view of what your blood sugars are up to. They provide invaluable information. Think of it this way, when you don’t use this device and you use a meter to check your blood sugar, even if you check 10 times a day, you’re only getting 10 seconds of data out of 86,400 seconds in a day; that’s less than .011% of the day.
Apps like mySugr. I personally use the Dexcom G6 CGM and the mySugr app to track all of my diabetes data. The mySugr app was developed by T1s, for T1s! It is incredibly simple to use, yet very effective. I can see how much insulin I use per day vs others, and I can see trends in my data over 120+ days. The app has so much to offer, and it’s always accessible since it’s on my phone.
Old school pen and paper. Honestly, if this is your thing, do it! Data is data.
Having data will help you make more informed decisions. And the more informed your decisions are, the better your control will be over your diabetes, thus, you’ll feel better (I hope)!
I will leave you with this:
“By relying on the statistical information rather than a gut feeling, you allow the data to lead you to be in the right place at the right time. To remain as emotionally free from the hurly burly of the here and now is one of the only ways to succeed.” – James O’Shaughnessy
I started the.insulin.type to better connect with others who are living with diabetes and to give myself a sense of accountability. I eat low carb (and maintain an A1C around 5.2%). #insulin4all is my passion and I advocate with @MNinsulin4all. I’m also incredibly proud to say that I created the Happy Diabetic Challenge, which aims to spread POSITIVE awareness for people with diabetes.