Checking Your Blood Sugar, Made Easy
Tracking your blood sugar is a key part to controlling your diabetes. These tips can help make it hassle-free.

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Picture of patient checking blood sugar Checking Your Blood Sugar, Made Easy

Your blood glucose meter, or glucometer, will probably intimidate you at first. Most people find the idea of blood sugar checks a bit overwhelming until they get used to it. But, with time and a little practice, most people with diabetes find the process easy to do. And if you follow these helpful tips, you'll be on your way to hassle-free blood sugar monitoring.

Choosing a glucose meter
Easy blood sugar checking begins with your glucose meter. Your doctor can suggest one that is accurate and reliable. Be sure to pick one that is also user-friendly:

  • Consider the size. A smaller meter may be easier to carry around. But, a larger meter will be easier to read and use if you have eyesight or dexterity problems. Also look at the size of the test strips. Ones that are too small may be tricky to handle.
  • Choose a meter with a "voice" if you have vision problems. The meter will announce what your blood sugar reading is so you don't have to look at the display.
  • Select a glow-in-the-dark meter or one with a light-up screen if you will be doing blood sugar checks at night.
  • Check what battery type the meter needs Consider where the batteries can be bought, how often they need to be replaced, and if they are rechargeable.
  • Find out if the meter's manufacturer offers support. Most meters will have a toll-free number you can call for help. Others may come with a video that demonstrates proper use.
  • Take into account how much storage space the meter has. Some meters can store up to 250 readings in memory, while others only store a few. Other meters are able to hook up to your computer so you can store your readings there.

Using your meter
Once you have your glucose meter, you're halfway there. Follow these tips to make checking your blood sugar easier:

  • Read the instructions on your glucose meter and your skin pricking lancet before you use them. Also be sure to calibrate your meter according to the instructions on the package.
  • Practice checking your blood sugar with your doctor or diabetes educator first before doing it at home. They can watch your technique and offer tips.
  • Set up your meter before you prick your skin. Make sure the batteries work, you have a test strip available, and the meter is ready.
  • Choose the spot where you prick your skin carefully. Do not draw blood from the same place each time. When using the fingers, aim for the side of the fingertip, not the top. The side is usually less sensitive and does not bruise as easily.
  • Warm your hands before pricking your finger. This may make it easier to get blood out. Or point your finger downward and try shaking and pressing on the finger gently. If you have trouble getting blood out often, talk to your doctor. He or she may suggest another lancet or a different location to draw blood.
  • Record your results in a notebook. Record not only your blood glucose readings but also the date, time of day, any foods eaten, medication or insulin dose, and exercise. Bring the notebook to all doctor appointments. This will help your doctor see if your diabetes care plan is working.
  • Practice makes perfect. Be patient at first. Checking your blood sugar should get easier over time. If it doesn't, ask your doctor for advice on how to make the process easier.

Continuous glucose monitoring is also available in some cases when very close blood glucose control is needed. This involves inserting a small sensor under the skin that must be changed frequently. Since it is not always as accurate as standard glucometers, you will still need to check results with those on your glucometer. Check with your doctor to see if this is an option for you.

By Jenilee Matz, MPH, Staff Writer
Created on 08/13/2009
Updated on 05/02/2011
  • American Diabetes Association. Choosing a blood glucose meter.
  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Continuous glucose monitoring.
  • American Diabetes Association. Checking blood glucose.
  • American Diabetes Association. Blood glucose meters.
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. Checking blood sugar levels.
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