An 18-page booklet may help diabetics get a better handle on their blood sugar levels, according to researchers.
The manual gives both practical advice on how to check blood sugar and interpret the test results, and how to emotionally deal with the difficulty of keeping blood sugar levels normal, Dr. Elaine C. Moreland of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and colleagues explain in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Among 199 adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who had been having difficulty with blood sugar control and had consistently high readings, those who were given the booklet on blood sugar monitoring started managing their condition more rigorously.
In turn, they were more likely to improve their blood sugar control, and they felt less discouraged by fluctuating sugar levels.
Experts advise that type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetics check their sugar levels at least three times a day, while type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels regularly, especially if they take insulin. Many diabetics fall short of these goals.
For their study, Moreland’s team randomly assigned one-third of their 199 patients to use the manual, while the rest served as two comparison groups.
After six months, patients who received the manual were checking their blood sugar more frequently — from an average of twice daily to three times per day — and they were 10 times more likely than “control” patients to increase or maintain their monitoring frequency.
Moreover, 61 percent of patients who used the booklet improved their blood sugar control, compared with 44 percent of control subjects. Those who used the manual were also less likely to let blood sugar highs and lows get them down emotionally.