How To Test Your Blood Sugar
To check your blood sugar level, gather your blood glucose meter, a test strip and your lancing device. See how to prepare the meter and test strip, lance your finger and get a reading using the Accu-Chek® Guide Me system by watching the video or following the steps here:
The steps are similar for many meters, and generally look like this:
How Do I Check
People with diabetes check their blood glucose 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.
How To Check Your Blood Sugar At Home For Accurate Results
When used correctly, over-the-counter blood glucose monitors are usually accurate. It is important that you follow the manufacturers instructions closely and be aware of the following factors to avoid inaccurate meter readings:
- Test strip care
Test strips can be very sensitive to variables. Always check the expiry date of your test strips before checking your blood sugar, as expired test strips could produce a false reading. Keep your strips in the container they came in, do not mix strips from one container into another, and only use the strips approved for your blood glucose meter. Keep your strips away from heat, moisture, and humidity. Throw damaged or expired strips away and do not use strips on another glucose meter, even from the same company.
- Extreme temperatures
The accuracy of your blood glucose meter can be affected by extreme temperature or other environmental conditions. Keep your meter and strips at room temperature. Dont leave them in the car. Check your meters guide to see what temperature range your meter is most accurate at. If your hands are cold, wash and hold them under warm water before taking a test to improve blood flow. If its a hot day, make sure you are well hydrated before taking a test. Dehydration can cause a spike in your blood glucose levels.
- Testing in very humid conditions
- Coding mistakes
- Contamination on your skin
- Too little blood applied to the test strip
- Testing site location and accuracy
- Stick with one meter
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Measure The Blood Glucose
1. Ensure the patients finger is cleaned prior to measuring capillary blood glucose:
- Its important that the skin over the site being tested has been cleaned, as substances on the skin can affect the accuracy of capillary blood glucose results .
- Ask the patient to wash their own hands or alternatively you can clean the site with an alcohol swab .
- Make sure the skin over the testing site has dried completely before performing capillary blood glucose measurement.
2. Turn on the capillary blood glucose monitor and ensure it is calibrated.
3. Load a test strip into the glucose monitor.
4. Don a pair of non-sterile gloves.
5. Pick up the lancet and carefully remove the protective cap.
6. Prick the side of the patients finger with the lancet and gently squeeze the finger from proximal to distal to produce a droplet of blood. Some guides advise cleaning away the first drop of blood, however, there is no evidence that this significantly impacts the reliability of blood glucose results.
7. Gently touch the tip of the test strip against the droplet of blood to allow it to be absorbed into the strip.
8. Apply gauze or cotton wool to the puncture site to stop the bleeding and ask the patient to maintain pressure over the site.
9. Safely dispose of the lancet into a sharps bin.
10. Dispose of the test strip and the cotton wool/gauze into a clinical waste bin. If the patients finger is still bleeding, keep the cotton wool or gauze in place and secure with some tape.
When Should Testing Occur
A doctor might recommend testing at three different times, and often over the course of several days:
- Morning fasting reading: This provides information about blood glucose levels before a person eats or drinks anything. Taking blood glucose readings before eating provides a baseline number. This number offers clues about glucose processes during the day.
- Before a meal: Blood glucose before a meal tends to be low, so a high blood glucose reading at this time suggests difficulties managing blood sugar.
- After a meal: Post-meal testing gives a good idea about how the body reacts to food, and if sugar can reach the cells efficiently. Blood glucose readings after a meal can help diagnose gestational diabetes, which happens during pregnancy. Most doctors recommend testing about 2 hours after a meal.
The doctor will personalize the glucose monitoring schedule for the individual.
- Fasting : 80â130 milligrams per deciliter
- Before meals: 70â130 mg/dl
- Two hours after starting meals: Below 180 mg/dl
- At bedtime: Under 120 mg/dl
- HbA1c: 7.0 percent or lower
Before beginning home testing, it is important that people get clear, target figures from their doctor.
Target numbers may vary from person to person and may change over time, depending on an individualâs health, age, weight, and other factors.
For people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels should be within the following ranges:
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What Factors Affect Blood Sugar
You can guess that carbohydrate intake and insulin production are at least partly responsible for your blood sugar levels. But the list is much longer — almost every lifestyle choice you make can affect your blood sugar. Here’s just a partial list.
- Exercise can affect insulin sensitivity, leading to lower blood sugar for up to 48 hours.
- Alcohol intake increases insulin production, causing low blood sugar.
- Stress hormones like cortisol can raise blood sugar, because your body wants access to energy in order to escape what it perceives as a dangerous situation.
- Medications, especially statins and diuretics, can raise blood sugar. Statins are used to treat cholesterol, and diuretics for high blood pressure.
- Diet is a major player in blood sugar. Eating too many simple carbs at once can cause levels to skyrocket, while protein intake leads to a slower increase in blood sugar.
- Dehydration raises blood sugar, because with less water in your body the glucose concentration will be higher.
Other surprising factors can affect your blood sugar, like a sunburn or gum disease, so if you’re dealing with a blood sugar issue and can’t figure out what’s causing your spikes and dips, talk to a health care professional.
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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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Type 2 And Gestational Diabetes
In type 2 and gestational diabetes , your body still produces insulin, but it doesn’t use it efficiently. This is called insulin resistance and it makes blood sugar levels rise.
If you one of these conditions, you may only need to test two to four times per day. You may test much more often, though, especially when your diagnosis is new and your levels aren’t yet stable.
You may check:
- First thing in the morning and before bed
- Before each meal and before bed
- Before and two hours after each meal and before bed
In part, this depends on whether you take insulin or use other medications. If you manage your diabetes with non-insulin medication and know your typical patterns, you may not even need to test daily.
How To Test For Blood Glucose
Blood glucose can be tested a few waysâââusing glucometer, continuous glucose monitoring and a fasting plasma glucose test. Glucometers and CGMs are easy to use home tests that can be used at any time point to monitor blood glucose level.
To use a glucometer, a small drop of blood is drawn using a small, sharp needle , and applied to a test strip . The glucometer will calculate blood glucose measurement in about 10â20 seconds.
A CGM is inserted under the skin and measures interstitial glucose continually for about 14 days. The time delay between interstitial glucose and blood glucose is approximately 9 minutes, ie. CGM measurement at a single time point will reflect true blood glucose levels around 9 minutes earlier.
A fasting plasma glucose test is carried out by your doctor who will draw a sample of blood, after at least 8 hours fasting. The blood sample is sent to a lab for analysis and your results will be reported by your surgery. This is normally done as a routine check-up or to diagnose diabetes.
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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.
What Time Of Day Should I Test
Recommendations for the best time of day to test your blood sugar depend on your medicine, mealtimes, and blood sugar control. Your doctor may provide a chart that outlines when to check your blood sugar and what level you should target. Your doctor may also suggest different goals, depending on your situation.
The chart may look something like this:
|Time to Test|
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Make A Note Of Your Readings
It may sound obvious, but you must record your readings. Note them down in a diary, a notebook or in your phone calendar. Some meters have software that lets you do this. You could try a diabetes app too.
You and your healthcare team can then look back over your results to see if you need to adjust your treatment.
When Should I Check My Childs Blood Sugar
The diabetes care team will tell you when to check your childs blood sugar. Most kids and teens need to test:
- before each meal
- at bedtime
- before, during, and after exercise
Sometimes you may need to test more often, even while your child sleeps. For example, if:
- Your child was recently diagnosed with diabetes.
- Your child is sick.
- Your child is having a lot of high or low blood sugars.
- There are changes in your childs diabetes treatment or daily habits.
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Other Tips For Checking:
- With some meters, you can also use your forearm, thigh, or fleshy part of your hand.
- There are spring-loaded lancing devices that make sticking yourself less painful.
- If you use your fingertip, stick the side of your fingertip by your fingernail to avoid having sore spots on the frequently used part of your finger.
How The Test Is Done
You can buy a testing kit from a pharmacy without a prescription. Your provider can help you choose the right kit, set up the meter, and teach you how to use it.
Most kits have:
- Test strips
- Small needles that fit into a spring-loaded plastic device
- A logbook for recording your numbers that can be downloaded and viewed at home or at your provider’s office
To do the test, prick your finger with the needle and place a drop of blood on a special strip. This strip measures how much glucose is in your blood. Some monitors use blood from areas of the body other than the fingers, reducing discomfort. The meter shows your blood sugar results as a number on a digital display. If your vision is poor, talking glucose meters are available so that you don’t have to read the numbers.
Be aware that no meter or strip is accurate 100% of the time. If your blood sugar value is unexpectedly high or low, measure again with a new strip. Do not use strips if the container has been left open or if the strip has gotten wet.
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How Do I Measure Blood Sugar
If you have diabetes, you probably already keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar through the use of a continuous glucose monitor or a blood sugar meter . Blood sugar measurement is also typically included in routine lab work for people without diabetes — your physician will usually order a glycated hemoglobin test, which measures your average blood sugar over the past two to three months.
Say your A1C test comes back with no sign of diabetes — constantly measuring your blood sugar can still be helpful. For instance, some people experiment with using a CGM to see how their body responds to different types of food. However, it’s good to note that this is a fairly cost-intensive way of figuring out your nutrition, and writing down a food diary that includes how you felt after each meal will also help you figure out what to eat.
Check out these blood sugar monitors if you’re looking for recommendations on how to keep track of your levels at home.
Tips For Using Glucose Meters
When using a glucose meter to check your blood sugar levels, its important to have clean fingers, as the accuracy of your test can be impacted by the presence of food or contaminants on your fingers. For those times when you cant wash your hands before you test, you may want to carry some finger wipes with you. However, if you do clean your finger first, be sure to have it dry before testing.
Just like insulin, glucose meters and strips can be affected by low or high temperatures, so remember not to leave your blood glucose monitor in your car, in direct sunlight, or anywhere that gets extremely hot or cold. Some types of meters are more sensitive than others to high and low temperatures. See the insert in the meter package or visit the manufacturers website for more specific storage instructions.
It might be tempting to leave your glucometer at home however, knowing how your blood sugar levels are trending will help you avoid instances of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia . Remember to pack your lancing device too, its usually in the case with the meter so double check that you have it in it.
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