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How to Check Your Blood Sugar

What you need

  • A lancet (a small cutting instrument)

  • Test strips

  • A glucose meter

  • A log book

Monitoring the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood is the key to controlling your diabetes. To be sure your glucose and insulin are in balance, check your blood sugar regularly. You can check your blood sugar level by using a blood glucose meter. Your health care team will show you how and tell you how often you should check your blood sugar.

Using a blood glucose meterWoman holding glucometer and writing in blood glucose log.

You can check your blood sugar at home, at work, and anywhere else. Your diabetes team will help you select a blood glucose meter. A meter measures the amount of glucose in a tiny drop of blood. You’ll use a device called a lancet to draw a drop of blood. Put the strip in the meter first. Then touch the test strip to the drop of blood. The meter then supplies a number (reading) that tells you the level of your blood sugar.

Aim for your target range

Your blood sugar should be in your target range — not too high and not too low. Target range is where blood sugar level is healthiest. Staying in this range as often as possible will help reduce your risk of health problems. Your diabetes team will help you figure out your ideal target range.

Track your readings

Use a log to keep track of your readings. You may be asked to check your blood sugar before and after meals. Write down both numbers. Keep track of your reading by time. This helps identify patterns, such as high blood sugar after eating certain foods. Take your log along when you see the doctor. And don’t fudge your numbers! They tell you if your management plan needs adjustment to keep your blood sugar in good control:

1. Get ready

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm (not hot) water.

  • Follow all of the instructions included with the glucometer.

2. Draw a drop of blood

  • Prick the side of your finger with the lancet. Squeeze gently until you get a drop of blood. Squeezing too hard can cause an inaccurate reading.

  • If your meter allows you to take blood from another part of your body, follow the directions for obtaining a drop of blood.

  • Dispose of the lancet in a special sharps container. Ask your health care team where to find one.

  • If you are unable to get enough blood, hold your hand at your side and gently shake it.

3. Place the drop on a strip

  • Wait for the meter to display a message or symbol that it is time to place strip to the blood.

  • Touch the test strip to the drop of blood.

  • Some meters do not use test strips. Be sure to follow instructions included with meter.

4. Read and record your results

  • Wait for your meter to display the result.

  • If you see an error message, or if the glucose numbers aren't what you expect — too low without symptoms, or too high for no reason — recheck using a fresh strip and a fresh drop of blood.

  • Record the results in your log book. Bring the log book with you to your medical appointments. Remember to discuss this with your doctor. 


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