Describes monitoring blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. Covers list of supplies needed, including blood sugar meter, testing strips, and lancet. Gives step-by-step instructions. Links to info on type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Diabetes: Checking Your Blood Sugar
Because you have
diabetes, you need to know when your blood sugar level
is outside the target range for your body. Fortunately, you can see what your
blood sugar level is anywhere and anytime by using a home blood sugar meter
(blood glucose meter). Using the meter, you can find out what your blood sugar
level is quickly.
Knowing your blood sugar level
helps you treat low or high blood sugar before it becomes an emergency. It also
helps you know how exercise and food affect your blood sugar and how much
short-acting insulin (if you take insulin) to take. Most importantly, it helps
you feel more in control as you manage life with diabetes.
keys to success in monitoring your blood sugar anywhere are:
Keeping your meter and supplies with you at all
times so that you always have them when you need them.
Making it a
habit to check your blood sugar level by building it into your
Checking your blood sugar meter's accuracy when you visit
your doctor by comparing your results with your doctor's results.
Monitoring your blood sugar level at home takes the guesswork out of your daily diabetes care. You
will know what your blood sugar level is at the time of testing. Here is a
simple way to get started.
Talk with your doctor about how often and
when you should test your blood sugar. Record your
blood sugar testing times(What is a PDF document?).
Link testing your blood sugar with
other daily activities, such as preparing breakfast or before your afternoon walk. This will help you
establish the habit of self-testing.
Gather the supplies to test your blood sugar. Keep
your supplies together so that you can do a test quickly if
Check your equipment before you do each test.
Check the expiration date on your testing
strips. If you use expired test strips, you may not get accurate
Many meters don't need a code from the test strips, but some will. If your meter does, make sure the code numbers on the testing strips bottle
match the numbers on your meter. If the numbers do not match, follow the
directions that come with your meter for changing the code numbers.
Most manufacturers recommend using the sugar
control solution that is made by your meter's manufacturer the first time you use a meter, when you open a new bottle of test strips, or to check the accuracy of your meter's results. Follow the
directions that came with your meter for using the control solution
Some people who have diabetes test their
blood sugar rarely or not at all. Other people—such as pregnant women or people who use insulin—test it
often. The more often you test your blood sugar, the more you
will know about how well your treatment is keeping your blood sugar levels
within a target range.
Follow these steps when testing your blood
Wash your hands with warm, soapy water, and
dry them well with a clean towel.
Put a clean needle (lancet) in
the lancet device. The lancet device is a pen-sized holder for the lancet. It
holds and positions the lancet and controls how deeply the lancet goes into
Get a test strip from your bottle of testing strips. Put
the lid back on the bottle immediately to prevent moisture from affecting the
Get your blood sugar meter ready. Follow the
manufacturer's instructions for your specific meter.
Use the lancet
device to stick the side of your fingertip with the lancet. Some devices and
blood sugar meters allow blood testing on other parts of the body, such as the
forearm, leg, or hand. Be sure you know where your device can be used.
Put a drop
of blood on the correct spot of the test strip, covering the test area
Using a clean cotton ball, stop the bleeding by applying
pressure to the place you stuck.
Wait for the results. Most meters
take only a few seconds to give you the results.
Record the results
Recording your blood sugar
results is very important. You and your doctor will use your record to see how often
your blood sugar levels are in your target range. This information lets you and your
doctor know how your medicine, food, and activity are affecting your blood sugar. Be sure to
take your record with you on each visit to your doctor or diabetes
To record your results, you can:
Get printed blood sugar logs from companies
that make diabetic medicines and supplies. Or use a
home blood sugar diary(What is a PDF document?).
Make a blood sugar log
in a notebook. You can record other information in the log or notebook, such as
insulin doses, your exercise, and food you have eaten. You and your doctor will find this information most useful when looking for patterns and reasons for your blood sugar levels.
Use the memory storage feature of your meter and other note-taking features. Find out if your doctor can transfer the data to your medical record or if you can make reports to share.
Preventing sore fingers
The more often you test
your blood sugar, the more likely you are to have sore fingertips. These
suggestions can help prevent sore fingers:
Do not prick the tip of your finger. If you
do, the prick is more painful and you may not get enough blood to get accurate
results. Always prick the side of your fingertip. Also, do not prick your toes
to get a blood sample. This can increase your risk of developing a dangerous
infection in your foot.
Don't squeeze your fingertip. If you have
trouble getting a drop of blood large enough to cover the test area of the
strip, hang your hand down below your waist and count to 5. Then squeeze your
finger beginning closest to your hand and moving outward to the end of your
Use a different finger each time. Establish a pattern for
which finger you stick so that you will not use some fingers more than others.
If a finger becomes sore, avoid using it to test your blood sugar for a few
Use a different device. Some blood sugar meters need smaller drops of blood. Some blood sugar meters can use sites other than the fingers, such as
the forearm, leg, or hand.
Use a different lancet.
Some lancet devices can be set to prick your skin deeply or lightly depending on the thickness of your skin and where on your body you are getting the blood.
Do not reuse the lancet. It can get dull and cause
pain. A used lancet can carry bacteria that can make you sick. Some people reuse lancets anyway. If you do, wash your hands well each time you use it. And use a new one each day to reduce the chance for bacteria growth.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.