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How To Check Glucose Levels At Home

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What Causes Blood Sugar To Be High

How to test your blood glucose (sugar) levels

Many things can cause high blood sugar , including being sick, being stressed, eating more than planned, and not giving yourself enough insulin. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to long-term, serious health problems. Symptoms of high blood sugar include:

  • Feeling very tired.
  • Having blurry vision.
  • Needing to urinate more often.

If you get sick, your blood sugar can be hard to manage. You may not be able to eat or drink as much as usual, which can affect blood sugar levels. If youre ill and your blood sugar is 240 mg/dL or above, use an over-the-counter ketone test kit to check your urine for ketones and call your doctor if your ketones are high. High ketones can be an early sign of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately.

Monitoring Your Blood Sugar Level

Last Updated May 2022 | 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.

How To Reduce The Pain Of Blood Sugar Checks

Nobody gets excited about pricking their fingertip. In fact, studies have shown that it’s one of the main reasons people refrain from regularly checking their blood glucose.6,7 So how can you make this less of a hurdle in your self-care?

Select a less-painful lancing device

Naturally, one factor that can contribute to the pain is your lancing device. That’s why we’ve worked hard to ensure that Accu-Chek lancing devices keep discomfort to a minimum. For example, our lancing devices feature:

  • Technology that minimizes side-to-side motion, so there’s less skin tearing
  • 11 customizable depth settings to help match your skin type
  • Precisely manufactured, beveled, thin-gauge lancets to ensure smoother entry

You can reduce pain by using a fresh lancet for every test. Today’s lancets are so tiny that just a single use can bend or dull the tips. This can make them hurt more as you reuse them.

5 tips for reducing fingertip pain

You can make testing more comfortable and help ensure that you get a good sample on the first try by following these 5 easy steps.

  • Make sure that your hands are clean and dry. Washing your hands with warm water and hanging your hand at your side for a few minutes may increase blood flow.3
  • Lance on the side of the fingertip rather than the pad. The pad of your fingertipwhere your fingerprints are most visibleare some of the most sensitive parts of your body.8
  • Keep the skin taut by pressing the lancing device firmly against the skin.
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    Continuous Glucose Monitoring: An Alternative

    Because you need to test your sugars more often if you have type 1 diabetes, you may want to look into a continuous glucose monitor rather than a traditional glucometer.

    With a CGM, a tiny sensor is inserted under your skin. It usually goes in the:

    • Upper arm
    • Abdomen
    • Thigh

    The sensor transmits a glucose readout to a special monitoring device or smartphone, usually every five to 15 minutes.

    Because the sensor is not replaced for several days, this technology reducesbut may not eliminatethe need for finger pricks.

    Ask your healthcare provider if a CGM is right for you.

    How To Manage After

    Many diabetics needlessly test blood sugar at home

    Get medicine that works for you.The right insulin or medication program can make a big difference. In general, to cover after-meal spikes, those that kick in quickly and for a short time are a better choice than ones that work slowly over a long period. Your doctor can explain your options.

    Keep blood sugar in check before meals. That way, even if it goes up after you eat, it wont be so dramatic.

    Watch what you eat. Limit sweets, white bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. They tend to trigger post-meal spikes.

    The type of fat you eat may play a role, as well. One study shows you may be able to curb blood sugar spikes after you eat if you skip foods with lots of butter and choose a meal made with a little olive oil instead.

    Eat breakfast every morning. Even when youre in a hurry to get out the door, dont be tempted to skip it. A study shows that folks with diabetes who dont eat breakfast get higher blood sugar spikes after lunch and dinner.

    The ideal morning meal? It might just be one thats packed with protein. A small study shows that when people ate a 500-calorie breakfast that was 35% protein, their post-meal blood sugar levels were lower than those who started their day with high-carb food. But check with your doctor to see whats right for you.

    Go for an after-dinner walk. Its a healthy habit for everyone, but if you have diabetes, its also a good way to burn extra glucose from a meal.

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    What Do My Results Mean

    When you finish the blood glucose 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 glucose 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 glucose level is simply a way to know how well your diabetes care plan is working, and whether that plan may need to change.

    How Do I Check My Blood Glucose

    If you are unsure about how to use your blood glucose meter, there are various healthcare providers who can teach you, such as:

    • a diabetes nurse educator
    • the practice nurse at your GP surgery.

    The following is a guide:

    • Wash and dry your hands before testing.
    • Insert a test strip into your meter.
    • Use your lancet device to get a drop of blood from the side of your fingertip to get a better-sized drop of blood, try warming your hands before testing.
    • Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood and wait for the result.
    • Your blood glucose reading will show up on the glucose meter display.

    It’s important to record your blood glucose level. Some blood glucose meters may record your blood glucose levels automatically or you can record your results in a diabetes diaryor in an app on your phone. Read about diabetes apps. You need to take your blood glucose record book or app to all appointments with your doctor, diabetes nurse educator or diabetes nurse specialist. They can check your blood glucose levels and decide on any medicine changes.

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    Talking With Your Doctor About Your Target Blood Sugar Levels

    In general, your target will be 80130 mg/dl before a meal and less than 180 mg/dl after a meal.

    In addition to daily monitoring, your doctor will measure your HbA1c at regular intervals. This blood test helps your doctor understand if your treatment plan is working to control your blood sugar levels. An ideal HBA1c level should not exceed 7%.

    Carrying out this test will also help you and your doctor determine the next step to take in your diabetes management plan.

    What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels

    Checking Blood Sugar (Glucose) Level | How to Use a Glucometer (Glucose Meter)

    They’re less than 100 mg/dL after not eating for at least 8 hours. And they’re less than 140 mg/dL 2 hours after eating.

    During the day, levels tend to be at their lowest just before meals. For most people without diabetes, blood sugar levels before meals hover around 70 to 80 mg/dL. For some people, 60 is normal for others, 90.

    What’s a low sugar level? It varies widely, too. Many people’s glucose won’t ever fall below 60, even with prolonged fasting. When you diet or fast, the liver keeps your levels normal by turning fat and muscle into sugar. A few people’s levels may fall somewhat lower.

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    Prepare The Lancing Device

    To prepare the lancing device, proceed as follows:

  • Hold the lancing device with one hand and open its cap.
  • Then insert a new sterile lancet into the lancet carrier.
  • Then turn the protective cover of the sterile lancet and remove it.
  • Finally, put the cap back on.
  • The lancet is now in the lancing device and ready for use.

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    Blood Sugar Testing Equipment

    Testing your blood glucose level is the only accurate way of knowing whether it is too high or low. You cannot accurately judge your blood sugar level just by how you feel.

    You can check your blood sugar level using the following equipment:

    • Blood glucose meter a finger-prick device is used to draw a drop of blood from your finger, which you put on a special stick. You then use the meter to see how much glucose is in the blood.
    • Flash glucose monitoring this system uses sensor technology to test glucose levels without needing to prick a finger. A sensor worn on the back of the arm connects to a reader or mobile phone application, which stores your glucose levels day and night.
    • Continuous glucose monitoring device a sensor is placed under the skin, which measures your glucose levels 24 hours a day. CGM is useful for people who have ongoing problems controlling their blood sugar level. The cost, including consumables , is around $5,000 per year.

    The Australian Government provides access to subsidised continuous and flash glucose monitoring products through the National Diabetes Services Scheme .

    Products that are subsidised by the NDSS, such as needles, syringes, blood glucose monitoring strips, urine monitoring strips and insulin pump consumables, are available from NDSS Access Points, usually your local community pharmacy.

    What Is Causing My Blood Sugars To Be Out Of Range

    How To Check Blood Glucose Level At Your Home Using A Digital ...

    Here are some common scenarios of blood sugars being out of range, possible reasons for them and what to do if you face these scenarios.

    High glucose levels before breakfast

    Morning glucose levels are often referred to as fasting glucose levels. If these levels are out of range, you may find that it is difficult to keep your levels down for the rest of the day. Possible reasons why your blood sugar is high in the morning include:

    • Consuming sweet drinks in the morning before measuring your sugar levels

    • Forgetting to take medication

    What to do if your blood sugar is high in the morning:

    • If this is the first time you notice it happening or if it only happens occasionally, try taking note of what you had the night before and the duration of sleep you had

    • If your blood sugar has been high in the mornings continuously for a few days, speak to your healthcare team about it

    High glucose levels before meals

    If your levels are out of the target range before your meals, think about whether you had anything to eat or drink within the last two hours. If the answer is yes, your glucose levels may have been caused by this. Perhaps you had a chocolate bar on the way home, or a sweet drink before dinner? If you have not consumed any food or drink, and your glucose levels are high before your meals, speak with your healthcare team as you may need to adjust your medication.

    High glucose levels after meals

    Hypoglycemia

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    How Can I Check My Blood Sugar

    Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.

    Who Can Use A Cgm

    Most people who use CGMs have type 1 diabetes. Research is underway to learn how CGMs might help people with type 2 diabetes.

    CGMs are approved for use by adults and children with a doctors prescription. Some models may be used for children as young as age 2. Your doctor may recommend a CGM if you or your child:

    Your doctor may suggest using a CGM system all the time or only for a few days to help adjust your diabetes care plan.

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    How Does A Glucometer Work

    A glucometer measures the amount of sugar in a small drop of your blood. This is done by a process called electrochemical sensing.

    To get a reading, you need to prick your finger with a small needle . This will draw a small drop of blood. You then place this drop of blood on a test strip. The test strip is then inserted into the blood glucose meter. The glucometer will then give you a reading within seconds.

    It is important to know that the results of a blood glucose meter are not always 100% accurate. Therefore, you should have your blood glucose level checked by a doctor at least twice a year.

    Checking Your Blood Sugar

    Diabetes: How to check your blood glucose level | NHS
  • 1Purchase a glucose testing kit. You can find these at pharmacies or most big box stores. You will also need matching testing strips to go with your monitor, so make sure your kit has some or purchase some separately.
  • You may also need to purchase needle tips for your lancing device if the kit doesn’t have them.
  • Check to see if the kit needs batteries or has them already.
  • Keep in mind that some kits may require a prescription, and they may be expensive without one. However, they’re available over-the-counter in some areas for as low as $10.
  • 2Wash your hands with warm soap and water. You need to prick your skin, and you don’t want to introduce bacteria. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing off the soap completely.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Diabetes AssociationHealth-based nonprofit focused on preventing and researching diabetesGo to source
  • Dry your hands well on a clean towel.
  • If you’re not near a place where you can wash your hands, use hand sanitizer or rub your finger with a rubbing alcohol wipe.
  • 3Insert a testing strip into the glucose monitor. The strip should indicate which way it goes in the monitor. If you’re not sure how to do it, read the instructions that came with your monitor.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
  • Some older glucose monitors may require that you place a drop of blood on the strip before pushing it into the machine.
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