How Do I Use A Blood Glucose Monitor
If your device is new to you, ask your healthcare provider to show you how to set it up and use it. Below are some basic guidelines.
Self-monitoring blood glucose devices
SMBG devices come with the same general instructions. To use one properly, youll need a few supplies:
The SMGB device that your provider prescribed to you
A corresponding test strip
A sharps container for when you dispose of your lancet
Start with washing your hands with soap and water. Allow your hands to air dry. Then, wipe the finger you will draw blood from with an alcohol wipe to prevent an infection.
After that, prick the tip of your finger with a lancet to draw a little bloodand dont forget to safely dispose of your lancet in your sharps container. The center of your finger has more nerve endings than the sides, so pricking the side of your finger might be less painful. Also note that each monitor may need a different amount of blood. Be sure to read the manual for details.
Once youve inserted a new test strip into your monitor, touch the appropriate edge of the test strip to your blood and wait as your device reads the sample and displays your results.
Continuous glucose monitoring devices
The setup process for CGM devices will differ depending on which one you are prescribed. For the best results, have your provider or pharmacist show you how to set it up.
How To Test Your Blood Sugar At Home
Follow these steps:
Monitoring Your Blood Sugar Level
Last Updated February 2021 | This article was created by familydoctor.org editorial staff and reviewed by Robert “Chuck” Rich, Jr., MD, FAAFP
If you have diabetes, its important to monitor your blood sugar at different times of the day and throughout the year. There are 3 tools that can help you do this and, therefore, manage your diabetes: A blood test done every three months, blood tests taken every day, and a system that constantly monitors your blood glucose.
The 3-month blood test is called an A1C test. This test reflects your blood sugar control over the past 2-3 months. Testing your A1C level every 3 months is the best way for you and your doctor to understand how well your blood sugar levels are controlled. Your doctor will likely be the one who orders an A1C test. However, you can also purchase over-the-counter A1C testing kits that you can use at home. Your A1C goal will be determined by your doctor. However, the goal is generally less than 7% or 8%, depending on your age.
The daily blood test is done with a blood glucose monitor . This is also called a home blood sugar meter, a glucometer, or a glucose meter. This type of testing is often referred to as self-monitoring of blood glucose. Your doctor may prescribe a BGM, especially if your blood sugar fluctuates. They will show you how to use it.
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Getting Tested By Your Doctor
Signs That Your Blood Sugar Is Not Stable
Besides feeling hangry, Shapiro says there are other signs that your blood sugar is low, often as a result of spiking it too high previously. “If you eat a large load of sugar or carbs solo , you may feel energized for a bit but in an hour or so you might find yourself sweating, tired, shaky, confused. These are signs of low blood sugar, a quick drop in energy that leaves your body weak,” explains Shapiro.
People may joke about hanger, but the feeling is very real, according to Shapiro. When your blood sugar is low, “You may also find you feel agitated, and hungry, which makes you feel angry or grumpy too.”
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t feel extremes in either direction. If you’re eating balanced meals, you should feel good most of the time and when you get hungry, it should happen slowly rather than being a dramatic feeling all at once, according to Shapiro.
Healthy sources of protein like fish and healthy fats like nuts and avocados can help keep your blood sugar balanced.
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When Is Regular Blood Glucose Testing At Home Recommended
For people with type 2 diabetes, regular testing of blood glucose levels at home using a blood glucose test meter is generally not needed unless you are:
- starting or already taking glipizide, gliclazide or glibenclamide this is because the risk of hypoglcaemia is higher with these medicines
- starting or already taking insulin
- at risk of frequent episodes of low blood glucose
- planning a pregnancy or are pregnant.
However, if you have type 2 diabetes, your healthcare provider will check your HbA1c levels every 36 months. This is to assess your blood glucose control and check how well your lifestyle measures such as diet and exercise, together with your diabetes medicines, are working.
How To Use Blood Glucose Testing Results
It’s not unusual for your blood glucose results to be out of range now and then. But if you see a pattern of highs or lows outside your target range, you may want to ask yourself:
- Did I eat at an unusual time, have a larger or smaller portion, or try a new food?
- Did I have more or less physical activity than usual?
- Did I forget to take my medication, take it at the wrong time, take too little or too much?
- Am I taking a new medication?
- Am I stressed about something?
- Do I have an infection or an illness?
- Did I drink alcohol?
Any of these can have an impact on your blood glucose numbers. If you’re making changes to your lifestyle, or if you can’t figure out why you’ve been out of range, talk to your doctor, nurse or diabetes educator.
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1American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes2016 Abridged for primary care providers . Diabetes Care. 2016 34: 3-21. Available at: . Accessed April 26, 2019.
2Polonsky WH, et al. Structured self-monitoring of blood glucose significantly reduces A1C levels in poorly controlled, noninsulin-treated type 2 diabetes: results from the Structured Testing Program study. Diabetes Care. 2011 34:262-267. Accessed April 26, 2019.
4Talk with your healthcare professional before deciding if alternate site testing is right for you.
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Checking Your Blood Glucose Levels Will Help You To:
- Develop confidence in looking after your diabetes.
- Better understand the relationship between your blood glucose levels and the exercise you do, the food you eat and other lifestyle influences such as travel, stress and illness.
- Know how your lifestyle choices and medication, if used, are making a difference.
- Find out immediately if your blood glucose levels are too high or too low , helping you to make important decisions such as eating before exercise, treating a hypo or seeking medical advice if sick.
- Know when to seek the advice of your diabetes health team about adjusting your insulin, tablets, meal or snack planning when blood glucose goals are not being met.
How To Choose A Blood Glucose Meter
There are many blood sugar meters to choose from, so start by thinking about what’s most important to you. Ask yourself a few questions.
- Are you concerned about accuracy? Make sure you’re using a meter and test strips that provide accurate results. Roche quality control processes ensure consistent accuracy. Find out more about our accuracy commitment.
- Do you use blood glucose results to dose insulin? The Accu-Chek Guide meter sends results directly to a smartphone app that includes an insulin calculator.5
- Do you feel like you’re always short on time? A system that syncs your data wirelessly, without manually entering results, can save time with every test. You may also want to consider a blood glucose meter that gives results quickly, makes it easier to handle test strips, doesn’t require coding, or simplifies lancing or dosing.
- Would you like to reduce the pain of testing? Choose a system with a lancing device specifically designed for comfort, such as the Accu-Chek FastClix lancing device. Precision-guided technology minimizes the lancet’s painful side to side motion and thin-gauge, bevel-cut lancets help ensure smoother entry. Plus, 11 customizable depth settings make it easier to get the right amount of blood the first time.
- Will you track results in the blood sugar meter, with an app or on a computer? Most blood sugar monitors have built-in memories, and many can beam or transfer data directly to your computer or an app on your smartphone, such as the mySugr app.
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How Do I Check
People with diabetes check their blood sugar levels by poking their fingertips and using a blood glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor to measure the blood glucose level at that moment. Read on to find out how to use a blood glucose meter. To find out more about CGMs, start by talking to your doctor.
What Are Blood Sugar Levels
Your blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose levels, are a measurement that show how much glucose you have in your blood. Glucose is a sugar that you get from food and drink. Your blood sugar levels go up and down throughout the day and for people living with diabetes these changes are larger and happen more often than in people who don’t have diabetes.
You can check your sugar levels yourself by doing a finger-prick test, by using a flash glucose monitor or with a continuous glucose monitor . You can do this a number of times a day helping you keep an eye on your levels as you go about your life and help you work out what to eat and how much medication to take. Find out your ideal target range.
But not everyone with diabetes needs to check their levels like this. Youll need to if you take certain diabetes medication. Always talk to your healthcare team if youre not sure whether thats you theyll give you advice on whether to check them yourself and how often.
And theres also something called an HbA1c, which measures your average blood sugar level from the previous few months. Everyone with diabetes is entitled to this check.
High blood sugar levels increase your risk of developing serious complications. However you manage your diabetes, stay in the know about your blood sugar levels.
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Which Type Of Device Is Right For Me
CGM devices are probably more convenient. Unlike SBMG devices, CGM devices dont require you to remember to test your blood sugar multiple times a day. They also dont need you to prick your finger, so they can be less painful.
If you feel like SBMG devices are a hassle, talk to your provider about getting a CGM device. Theyll want to help, especially if it makes you more inclined to monitor your blood sugar regularly.
When it comes to cost, insurance coverage can be a concern for some patients. Insurance plans will generally cover a few SMBG devices. CGM devices, on the other hand, are newer to the market so fewer insurance plans tend to cover them.
And if you dont have insurance or the SMBG device you want is too expensive for you, know that there are ways for you to saveor even get them for free. See here for information on savings programs for SMBG monitors and test strips.
Drink Water And Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water may help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits.
In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out the excess sugar through urine.
One observational study showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk for developing high blood sugar levels (
Its important to monitor your waistline, as its perhaps the most crucial weight-related factor for estimating your diabetes risk.
A measurement of more than 35 inches for women and more than 40 inches for men is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, and type 2 diabetes .
Having a healthy waist measurement may even be more important than your overall weight .
Keeping a moderate weight and waistline will help you maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease your risk for developing diabetes.
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How To Check Your Hba1c Levels At Home
HbA1c stands for hemoglobin A1c, it is a bio-marker which is used to screen for diabetes. It is the protein in your red blood cells which carries oxygen around your body and is what gives blood its red colour. The higher the blood sugar, the higher the level of hemoglobin A1c, which can be a sign of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
What Do My Results Mean
When you finish the blood sugar check, write down your results and note what factors may have affected them, such as food, activity, and stress. Take a close look at your blood glucose record to see if your level is too high or too low several days in a row at about the same time. If the same thing keeps happening, it might be time to change your diabetes care plan. Work with your doctor or diabetes educator to learn what your results mean for you. It can take time to make adjustments and get things just right. And do ask your doctor if you should report results out of a certain range right away by phone.
Keep in mind that blood glucose results often trigger strong feelings. Blood sugar numbers can leave you upset, confused, frustrated, angry, or down. It’s easy to use the numbers to judge yourself. Remind yourself that tracking your blood sugar level is simply a way to know how well your diabetes care plan is working, and whether that plan may need to change.
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How To Do A Finger
Your healthcare team will show you how to do it the first time, but these are the key steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dont use wet wipes as the glycerine in them can affect the test result. Make sure your hands are warm so its easier to get blood and wont hurt as much.
- Take a test strip and slot it into the meter to turn it on. Some meters will have tests strips built in.
- Remove the cap from your finger prick device and put in a new lancet. Then put the cap back on and set the device by pulling or clicking the plunger.
- Choose which finger to prick but avoid your thumb or index finger . And dont prick the middle, or too close to a nail. Place the device against the side of your finger and press the plunger. Use a different finger each time and a different area.
- Take your meter with the test strip and hold it against the drop of blood. Itll tell you if the test strip is filled, usually by beeping.
- Before you look at your reading, check your finger. Use a tissue to stop bleeding, then use it to take out the lancet and throw it away in your sharps bin.
- You can use the same tissue to take out the test strip and throw that away too. Taking out the strip will usually turn the meter off.
What If I Cant Get A Drop Of Blood For A Fingerstick
If you want to get blood from your fingertip, try washing your hands in hot water to get the blood flowing. Then dangle your hand below your heart for a minute. Prick your finger quickly and then put your hand back down below your heart. You might also try slowly squeezing the finger from the base to the tip.
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