Monitoring blood glucose

Manage your diabetes

How do I monitor blood glucose?

To test your blood glucose levels (BGLs) you will need:

  • a blood glucose meter
  • a finger pricking device with a lancet (a very fine needle)
  • test strips.

Before you begin, you will need to thoroughly wash and dry your hands. Then prepare the meter by inserting the testing strip. Prick your finger with the lancet to get a small drop of blood. Apply the drop of blood to a test strip, which has been placed in the blood glucose meter. The meter will provide you with a BGL reading within seconds.

Your doctor, diabetes educator or another member of your healthcare team will be able to show you exactly how to test your BGLs. They will also be able to help you choose the meter that is best for you and show you how to interpret the readings it provides.

Diabetes WA runs a short course on using and interpreting blood glucose meters. Read more about MeterSmart.

How often should I test?

How often you test your BGLs will depend on how you are currently managing your diabetes. Your doctor and healthcare team will help you decide how many tests are needed. Some people may test several times a day, others may only test a few times a week – ultimately it is your choice.

Remember that any changes in your daily routine will also affect your diabetes, and this may require you to test your BGLs more often for a period of time. You may decide to test more often if you:

  • change the amount of time you are physically active (either more or less)
  • become sick
  • are stressed
  • change your eating habits (for example, when you are travelling)
  • adjust your medication
  • experience symptoms of either hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia
  • experience night sweats or morning headaches.

Keep a record

You may also choose to keep a record of your BGL readings. Most blood glucose meters on the market have software that will store your readings and allow you to download them to personal computers and other devices.

You might still like to write your BGL readings down in a diary, along with other relevant information such as the food you ate or the amount of exercise you completed.

This will provide you and your health care team with a full picture of your routine, which is important in determining how well your diabetes is being managed and whether or not any adjustments to your medication or lifestyle should be made.

Blood glucose testing checklist

If you’re not convinced that one of your BGL readings is correct, you could try looking at the following before performing another test:

  • Did you wash and thoroughly dry your hands before doing the test?
  • Have the testing strips expired?
  • Is the testing strip the right one for your meter?
  • Was there enough blood on the testing strip?
  • Has the testing strip been put into the meter the correct way?
  • Is it possible the testing strips have been affected by climate, heat or light?
  • Is the meter clean?
  • Is the meter too hot or too cold?
  • Is the calibration code correct?
  • Is the battery low or flat?

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