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?
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.
Type 1 Thursday is BACK – and it’s all about the bolus!
Today, I’ll be answering a question from the audience about mealtime bolus gone wrong… How do you handle first high blood sugars, then low? Or high and steady after meals? Or low 3-4 hours after a meal? So confusing!
Do you have any experiences with mealtime bolus? How did you solve it? Let me know in the comments!
Also, do you have any questions for me to answer? I’d love to answer your question in a future Type 1 Thursday.
The bolus infographic from Diaverge.com that I mention in the video is this one:
If you prefer a written version of the video above, here you go:
Type 1 Thursday – Bolus Gone Wrong?
I have a really interesting question today actually, because this is something that I’ve struggled with myself quite a lot. I got a question from the audience this time to answer.
“So, how do I time insulin for different meals? I’m struggling despite eating low carb, and I still spike sometimes dosing at the start of the meal and then go low one hour after. And if I dose at the end of the meal, I go high and then low three hours later? This is so confusing!”
I do agree with Rachel, it is very, very confusing. It is difficult to figure this out. But I do have some rules of thumb that may help Rachel (may actually be a good reminder for myself, too) and maybe it will help one or two of you guys as well.
Dosing vs Timing?
As I see it, this can be both a dosing issue, but it can also be a timing issue.
This really comes down to first of all, what kind of mealtime insulin are you using? Are you using regular insulin as many people do on low carb? Are using some of the faster ones like Humalog or Novolog or Novorapid? Or are using the even faster ones like Alfrezza or Fiasp? It’s very difficult, as these insulins have different working time until they actually hit your system. Until you figure that out, it can be clue number one!
Clue number two is that it definitely can be a timing issue, but also a dosing issue. So let me go through this very, very carefully, point by point so that we don’t lose any details because that could be devastating! – if you first spike blood sugar after your meal, and then you go low, that means that you took too much insulin. It was also too late, hence the spike first and then the drop. So, play around with that, maybe you need to dose a little bit less, or maybe you need to do the same dose but earlier.? So that can be one of the clues if that is your problem, which it was in the question. – if you go low within the first hour, the amount of insulin you took was just too early because it hit your system before the food hit the system. So be careful and dose a little bit later. – if your blood sugar goes high and remains high after food, your bolus or the amount of insulin that you took was just simply too small. You need more bolus for that particular food or that particular situation or that particular anything-that-you-know influences blood sugar (which we all know is about a gazillion things). – Number four, which was also part of Rachel’s question, you go low two to three hours after food, that means that the bolus was too late. And definitely too much because your blood sugar dropped afterwards.
Those are the four different scenarios that I can figure out that may help. I shared this in a wonderful infographic from the beautiful ladies at diverge.com recently on my Facebook page, and it’s also above here in this post.
If you’re not recognising the patterns that you’re that you have. If you notice, for example, when you have certain foods, does the one or the other happen? If you have different timings of insulin, of course, this or the other happen? Or perhaps something completely new? Or, for example, if it’s the time of day – some people are more insulin resistant in the mornings than they are in the afternoons! So it can also be a timing issue, not just because of the insulin and when you took insulin and how much, but it can also be, depending on how or what time of day it is, because it just doesn’t always add up. It’s not always the same for people and especially not Type 1’s that are handling a lot of things at once.
I’m very, very happy to hear your experiences with mealtime bolus? Do you have any problems? How did you solve them? Have you maybe not solved them yet? Let me know in a comment below and I’ll be so happy to chat with you there.
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