|Blood sugar before meals||80 to 130 mg/dL|
|Blood sugar levels after meals||Less than 180 mg/dL|
Supplies you need
Before you use your blood glucose meter, make sure you have all the necessary supplies:
- Alcohol prep pad or soap and water
- A lancing device with a new lance (for health)
- A test stick
- A way to record results
You will need to use test strips that are specially made to work with your blood glucose meter. In addition, the lancets need to be tailored to your lancing device.
Using a blood glucose meter: Step by step
A blood glucose meter requires only one drop of blood. The meter is small enough to carry around or fit in a purse. You can use one anywhere.
Each device comes with a user manual. And often, your healthcare provider will also accompany you with your new blood glucose meter. This could be an endocrinologist or a certified diabetes educator (CDE), a specialist who can also help develop a personalized care plan, plan meals, answer questions Ask about managing your illness and more.
These are general guidelines and may not be accurate for all blood glucose meter models. For example, while the fingers are the most common position to use, some blood glucose meters allow you to use the thigh, forearm, or fleshy part of the hand. Check your manual before using the device.
Before you start
Prepare what you need and take a shower before drawing blood:
- Set out your supplies
- Wash your hands or wipe them down with an alcohol wipe. This helps prevent infection and removes food residue that could alter your results.
- Let the skin dry completely. Humidity can dilute the blood sample taken from the finger. Don’t blow on your skin to dry it out, as that can create germs.
Get and Check Samples
The process is quick, but doing it right will help you avoid having to re-stick yourself.
- Turn on the blood glucose meter. This is usually done by inserting a test strip. The glucometer display will let you know when to draw blood on the strip.
- Use the lancing device to stab the side of your finger, next to the nail (or another suggested location). This is less painful than rubbing the pads of your fingers.
- Squeeze your finger until it’s reduced in size just enough.
- Place the drop of blood on the strip.
- Use an alcohol pad to soak your finger to stop the bleeding.
- Wait a moment for the blood glucose meter to produce a reading.
If you often have trouble getting a good blood sample, warm your hands with running water or by rubbing them together quickly. Make sure they’re dry before you stick them yourself.
Record your results
Keeping a log of your results makes it easier for you and your healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan.
You can do this on paper, but smartphone apps that sync with the blood glucose meter make it very easy. Some devices even record the readings on the screen.
Follow your doctor’s orders about what to do based on your blood sugar results. That might include using insulin to lower your levels or eating carbohydrates to raise your levels.
Dispose of Lancet
Throw the lancet in the sharps container. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacy for one or use a thick plastic bottle with a screw cap. Take the container to a hospital or pharmacy that has a return program, or check the disposal regulations where you live.
Avoid common problems
Proper maintenance and use of your blood glucose meter can help you avoid false readings, insufficient samples, and your monitor not working when you need it.
- Keep extra blood glucose meter batteries on hand.
- Do not use expired test strips. They may give incorrect results.
- Store the strips in their container with the lid tightly closed. Light or moisture may cause damage.
- Clean your device periodically. Run a quality control check when prompted. (Check your manual for how to do it.)
- Some devices require a larger blood sample. Be sure to use the blood sample size required by your device.
If your finger hurts, you have several options to make it less painful:
- Use a new lance: Not only is a new lance required for each use for hygiene purposes, but repeated use will dull them and make the puncture more painful.
- Change the gauge (thickness) of your spear blade: The higher the number on the package, the thinner the lancet. For example, a 30-gauge lancet may be more comfortable than a 21-gauge.
- Adjust the settings on your lancing device: This can make the puncture less deep. Try a low setting, such as 2 or 3, then work your way up until you get a good sample with the least amount of pain.
- Replace the fingersand which side of the finger do you use. That will give the pimples time to heal before you poke them again.
Check your blood sugar on the go
When traveling, be sure to bring extra test strips, lancets, and other supplies like insulin, needles, and batteries.
- Keep your blood glucose meter and test strips in a clean, dry place.
- Avoid extreme heat and direct sunlight. Don’t leave your items in the car or in checked baggage.
- If you’re traveling for a few days, a hard plastic pencil case makes a good temporary sharps case.
If you’re flying, check the TSA rules for carrying your supplies and medications.
Glucose monitoring in children
Children with diabetes of any type need to have their blood glucose levels checked. Children may need testing more often than adults, especially if they use insulin.
Getting your child familiar with regular blood sugar testing can help:
- Fix the problem in the treatment plan
- Give them a sense of control over what’s going on
- Their understanding of how food, exercise, and medications affect blood sugar
Children may also have a higher glucose target range than adults. Their health care provider can tell you what the ideal range for a child is.
The kids have Hypoglycemia or episodes of low blood sugar may require testing in the middle of the night.
Further testing may also be ordered when your child is sick.
Help children self-check
Practice using the odometer with your child regularly. Empowering them with the tools and know-how they need will help as they transition to self-care.
Teach your child that self-monitoring of glucose is a big responsibility. Let them know how important it is to manage their condition as they grow older and more independent.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring: An Alternative
Since you need to check your sugar more often if you have type 1 diabetes, you may want to consider a continuous blood glucose meter (CGM) instead of a traditional blood glucose meter.
With CGM, a small sensor is inserted under your skin. It usually goes in:
The sensor transmits the odometer results to a special monitoring device or smartphone, usually every 5 to 15 minutes.
Since the sensor is not replaced for several days, this technology reduces — but may not eliminate — the need for finger pricks.
Ask your healthcare provider if CGM is right for you.
A blood glucose meter helps you to monitor your blood sugar. They are used by people with type 1, 2, LADA, and gestational diabetes.
Your healthcare provider can tell you your test frequency and target range.
Use and maintain your blood glucose meter as directed by the manual. If you need help, ask your healthcare provider about seeing a certified diabetes educator.
frequently asked Questions
How does a blood glucose meter work?
To read the results, prick your fingertip and place a drop of blood on a plastic test strip inserted into the blood glucose meter. The gauge then gives you a reading.
Why do I need to monitor my blood sugar throughout the day?
Blood sugar levels fluctuate so regular monitoring is the best way to control your diabetes. Poor control means greater health risks, including kidney disease, vision loss, heart disease, and other health problems.
What is continuous blood glucose monitoring?
Continuous blood glucose monitors have a small sensor that is attached under your skin. It checks your blood sugar every few minutes and sends the results to a remote monitor. This gives you the ability to keep track of levels without a lot of finger poking.
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