Blood sugar monitoring is an essential part of managing your diabetes. With regular home testing using glucose monitors, diabetics can keep their blood sugar levels healthy to delay or even prevent many diabetic complications.
Blood Sugar Monitor Supplies
You’ll need to purchase some supplies to begin testing your blood sugar at home:
- A blood sugar monitor
- Alcohol pads
- Sterile finger lancets
- Sterile test strips.
Your health insurance company may cover the costs of diabetic testing supplies, including the actual blood glucose monitors.
How to Use Blood Sugar Meters
Until now, you may have only had your blood sugar tested by a doctor or lab. With practice, however, you’ll become comfortable doing your own blood sugar monitoring at home. While certain blood glucose monitors have specific instructions, here are some basics for testing at home:
- First, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Then clean the skin area you’ll prick with an alcohol pad.
- Get a test strip from its container. (Replace the cap right away so you don’t damage the remaining strips.)
- Use a sterile lancet to prick yourself and get a drop of blood.
- Transfer the blood drop to the test strip by holding your hand down and gently touching the test strip to the blood drop.
- Insert the test strip into your blood sugar monitor, following the manufacturer’s instructions. (With some glucose monitors, you’ll insert the test strip into the meter first and then add your blood drop.)
- Your blood sugar monitor will soon display your blood sugar level.
Some blood sugar meters allow you to get a blood drop from areas other than the finger, such as the forearm or thigh. Your doctor will let you know if these blood sugar meters are right for you.
When to Test with Glucose Monitors
You may be wondering how often you’ll have to test your blood sugar. Because every person is unique, your doctor will let you know the best blood sugar monitoring schedule for you. Here are some typical blood sugar monitoring plans:
- Type 1 diabetes: Type 1 diabetics should expect to use their blood glucose monitors a minimum of three times per day. You may be asked to test before or after meals, before and after exercise, and at bedtime. Those who aren’t feeling well or change their usual routines may need to use their glucose monitors more often.
- Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetics will probably have to use their blood sugar meters one to three times a day if they use insulin. Otherwise, blood sugar monitoring may occur less frequently.
Choosing Blood Glucose Monitors
With so many different blood sugar meters on the market, how do you choose one? If your insurance only covers certain models, your choices may be limited. If you are free to choose any model you’d like, however, here are some features to look for in a blood sugar monitor:
- Ease of use
- Large display (if you have vision challenges)
- Memory to keep records of as many as 500 tests
- Multi-site testing (if your doctor recommends)
- Quick test results, in as little as five seconds
- Small blood sample requirement (lancets that don’t poke as deeply)
- Software to sync with your computer.
Family Doctor. (2010). Diabetes: Monitoring your blood sugar level. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/diabetes/living/355.html.
Health Media Ventures. (2010). Eight things to consider when choosing a blood glucose monitor. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20188575,00.html.
Mayo Clinic. (2010). Blood sugar testing: Why, when and how. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blood-sugar/DA00007.