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Basal Insulin Testing – Why, How & When?

Do you have frequent low blood sugars? Or high? And they all seem to come out of nowhere?

It could be something wrong with your basal insulin, dose or timing! Learn all about basal insulin testing in today’s Type 1 Thursday!

When was the last time you checked you basal insulin settings?

Type 1 Thursday – Basal Insulin Testing – Hanna Boëthius

Transcription

If you prefer to read all about basal insulin testing, you can do so below. Enjoy!

Basal Insulin Testing

‘I want to ask you this first, do you perhaps experience frequent hypos or frequent highs that seem to come out of nowhere? They are not really connected to when you’re eating and your bolus insulin, and it’s not really connected to anything else either. So maybe it is something else, could it be? (As we all know, with diabetes, chances are it could be…)

Butt first, hypos, or low blood sugars, never, ever happen because you’re not eating enough food! Hypos always, always, always happen because you’re taking too much insulin for that particular circumstance. That actually leads us back to today’s topic, basal insulin settings and how to check that your basal insulin settings, like your long acting insulin, or basal settings on your pump, are correct for you. Not for anyone else, never ever compare insulin dosages with anyone else. It is what it is for you and if it is correct.

Basal insulin is really key, either is dose or the timing. If you are on MDI, timing of the basal insulin could be a problem. So let’s figure out what it is, how we do it and all this stuff when it comes to basal insulin testing. It’s not necessarily fun, but hey, you know, it needs to be done if you want as good of a control as you can have on your Type 1 Diabetes. Having your basal set properly also helps you bolus correctly for your food or it makes it a lot easier to calculate.

What is a basal insulin test?

The point of basal insulin is to keep your blood sugar stable when you’re not eating, when you’re exercising when you’re not doing anything. It works the same in healthy people, the ones that don’t need to add insulin from the outside. Basal insulin is there to keep your blood sugar very stable during the whole day when you’re not eating, not exercising, not doing anything of the few things that actually help lowering your blood sugar, or any of the 42 or 45, or whatever things that can increase your blood sugar.

What is a basal test? Well, it’s basically to determine what your proper basal setting is, whether you are on a pump or taking long acting insulin. Without the influence of food and without bolus insulin, without exercise.

How to basal insulin test?

How do you do it? Well, trick number 1 is to start at a normal blood sugar level. Don’t start if you’re too high, don’t start if you’re too low, start at a normal that is the baseline of basal insulin testing.

You can either do it in two ways. Either you fast the full 24 hours and get it all out of your system and you have done in one go or you divide it up on 4 days and divide the 24 hours into 6 hour increments, where you fast for 6 hours and then check your blood sugar’s hourly to see what happens to them.

This is also where a CGM is very helpful, although I would not trust it to be exact for all of that, I would also prick my finger a couple of times in those 6 hours or those 24 hours, just so you can actually see what is doing what. If you choose to do it in four days, then you do overnight in one go and then you do a morning session, followed by a day session and then an evening session, so that you get those 24 hours all checked.A suggestion is that you basal insulin test one week and then the next week you do the same, to just double check and fine tune and really tweak your basal insulin (because this is really key for good blood sugar management)

Do & Don’t when Basal Insulin Testing

Don’t eat or take insulin (bolus) 4 hours before you start the test.

You can have water and herbal tea during your fasting hours, anything that’s not caffeinated and nothing that will do a number on your blood sugar. Anything that is neutral is fine.

Don’t eat unless you go too low, if you’re having a hypo. Also, don’t correct unless you go too high. (If you go too low during your your basal insulin testing, it means that you’re taking you’re taking too much basal insulin, whether it isn’t a pump or injections. If you go too high, your basal insulin is sett too low.)

Make sure you’re not sick or on your period or have something going on that you know influences your blood sugars.

It is completely okay to break the test if you have to! If you have a hypo, you have to correct it. It’s fine to break the basal insulin test, you just do it another day instead. And the same if you go too high, it’s fine to break the test, you have a bolus and get on with your day. The main point is that you take care of yourself! The basal insulin test can be done another day instead.

Also, one, one very important tip, is to write down the results, so you have them on paper. It makes it a lot more easy to overview instead of having it in some app and you have go back and forth between resources. Good old pen and paper works the best in this case, I would say.

What are the results of basal insulin testing?

If your blood sugar drops too much, you’re taking too much insulin. You’re taking too much basal for your needs. If your blood sugar goes up too high during the basal insulin test, you’re taking too little basal insulin, and you need to increase it.

If you are an MDI and notice something could be better during these 24 hours, perhaps you need to split to your dose? This is something you can discuss with your doctor. And if you’re on a pump, remember that it’s usually the basal setting that is about an hour to 2 hours before that impacts your blood sugar’s right now, so you have to be a little bit flexible in adjusting this, if you need to.

That was my very short run through on how to basal test your insulin properly.

I want to know from you, when was the last time you basal tested your settings or your dose or timing for that matter?

Let me know in a comment below. I’ll be so happy to chat with you there.

Ps. Want to learn more about basal insulin testing? Check out Dr. Richard Bernstein’s video here!

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Type 1 Thursday – Unexpected high blood sugars? 🤔

…it could be THIS!

When you’ve done everything you normally do to keep your blood sugar healthy and stable, and your blood sugars all of a sudden rise to the point that you have to drastically increase your basal dose or rate.

You’ve eaten low carb, taken insulin & other meds you may be prescribed, hydrated, moved, supplemented, not stressed too much, changed insulin vials, stuck to your routine – all to no avail. Your blood sugar is stubbornly and unexpectedly high anyway!

In thisType 1 Thursday, I will discuss a possible reason why, based on my own very recent experience.

Watch the video or read the transcription below:

https://youtu.be/qafwdTm4tqQ
Type 1 Thursday – Hanna Boëthius

Have you experienced something like this? Leave a comment and tell us more!

Transcription

If you prefer reading the information, here it is:

Today’s topic is actually a bit of a personal note, because this is something that I’ve recently experienced. If I’ve experienced it, there may be others out there who experienced the same and may need help with similar situations or at least help figuring out what it can be.

If you live with Type 1 Diabetes, you know that some days are just weird, blood sugar-wise. It doesn’t matter what you do, your blood sugar’s either high or it’s low, or it’s whatever where it shouldn’t be. Usually it is a little bit on the higher side, and if you have frequent lows, you just think that you’re cured for a split second!

When you have those stubborn high blood sugars, to the point where you do a basal test to find out how much basal you should be taking. And that actually shows that you’re taking too little basal all of a sudden! It’s not due to hormones, if you’re growing or a woman or anything hormone related. It is not due to the seasons, because whether can involve insulin resistance, too. It’s not because you’ve changed your diet, you’re eating the same thing. Basically, you keep everything the same. Just all of a sudden, your blood sugar’s up, and you need more insulin overall.

“Oh, okay. Have I not exercised enough? Yes, I’ve done that.” Check off the list. “Am I coming down with something? Am I getting a cold or a fever? Is there something like that going on? Nope.” You feel fine as a little baby bird, just maybe apart from the high blood sugar situation? Hmm, what else? “Am I injured somewhere? No, not that I know. And have I been drinking enough water and I’ve been taking my supplements? Have I been eating low carb enough?” It can also of course, be stress, it could have been stress in my case, definitely. And it could have been a bad insulin vial. But as this kept going throughout insulin vials and stressful periods and stuff, I figured out it wasn’t that. All these things that will checklist of lifestyle factors that do influence blood sugar. Everything is in check. What the *bleep* is going on?

Well, this, as I mentioned, did happen to me quite recently. In the past few months, all of a sudden, my basal requirements increased with, I kid you not, 30%! This is, of course, it’s just a number and you have to use the insulin that your body needs. But to me, it felt very weird. Wait, what could this possibly be that is going on? I didn’t think more about it. My blood sugar was then back to their stable, wonderful self, with the 30% extra basal insulin requirement.

But then I started getting a tooth ache. We were traveling at the time, and I was like, “Oh, no, I have to like find a dentist!” I’m not too fond of dentist, as it is. I contemplated finding an emergency dentist where I wasn’t notat home, and didn’t really speak the language. And I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where I am and all the stuff. I’m like, oh, what am I gonna do?

But I made it. I could soothe the symptoms until I got back to my normal dental hygienist, who happily took an X ray of my lower jaw on the left side and noticed, “oh, you have an abscess underneath that tooth that was hurting.” I’m like, “oh, okay, so it was an inflammation. I just couldn’t feel it at the time!” I had walked around with an inflammation, which is known to cause high blood sugars and insulin resistance (or both, which is probably the case here). I was very jolted when she said that it has to be surgically removed.

Now, I’ve had a fair amount of dental work done. Especially when I was still in my high sugar eating days, my teeth started crumbling a little bit. I didn’t know why, because I was eating the way I was supposed to. Since going low carb, I haven’t had any problems at all. So for a long time, I haven’t had to go to the dentist, I’ve only gone to the dental hygienist to get my teeth cleaned and and she checks my teeth. If everything is good, I don’t have to go to dentist. Yay. Happy me. But this time, she’s like, “well, you know, you can’t really remove this on your own, it won’t go away. So we have to actually surgically open up your gums on the lower left side.” This sounded lovely. (If you’re sensitive, please just fast forward!)

“We have to open up your gums on the lower left jaw and we have to dig out the inflammation by hand because it won’t go away.” And I’m like, “No, this is terrible!”, feeling my stress regarding dentists as it is, my blood sugar immediately went up a little bit. I wasn’t very happy about that (but that wasn’t the point of the story.) The point of the story is, that when I finally managed to get the courage to make that appointment, and the dentist was allowed to cut up my gums (and ended up doing a lot of other work that I just don’t even want to remember, because it was terrible.) Then, when the inflammation was out, and I had started healing, look at that, hey, presto – there went my 30% basal rate that I had added on top! My basal rate went back to normal. It was that inflammation.

The moral of my terrible experience and story is that if you do have unexpected highs and your basal rate does go up, it doesn’t have to be anything that you’ve done or that you’re doing wrong, or that you’re not being “compliant”. That’s a terrible word! It can also be something that is going on in your body that you don’t even know about, as in my case, it was a dental inflammation, a dental abscess.

I don’t recommend it to anyone. But if it does happen to you, make sure that you get it taken care of, and go check it out. And this is why it’s actually quite good as a diabetic to get your teeth cleaned quite regularly so that someone can see the differences going on.

Have you ever experienced anything similar to this? Anything that all of a sudden raise your blood glucose values or all of a sudden raise your basal rates?

Let me know and let me know how you sold that in the comments and we’ll be happy. I’ll be happy to do chat with you there.

I hope this story hasn’t put you off! It did me for a good while, but I’m happy that it’s now over and I can look forward again.