Blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose levels, are a measurement that show how much glucose you have in your blood. Glucose is a sugar that you get from food and drink. Your blood sugar levels go up and down throughout the day and for people living with diabetes these changes are larger and happen more often than in people who don’t have diabetes.
Regular blood sugar monitoring is the most important thing you can do to manage type 1 or type 2 diabetes. You’ll be able to see what makes your numbers go up or down, such as eating different foods, taking your medicine, or being physically active. With this information, you can work with your health care team to make decisions about your best diabetes care plan. These decisions can help delay or prevent diabetes complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation. Your doctor will tell you when and how often to check your blood sugar levels.
You prick your finger with a small, sharp needle (called a lancet) and put a drop of blood on a test strip. Then you put the test strip into a meter that shows your blood sugar level. You get results in less than 15 seconds and can store this information for future use. Some meters can tell you your average blood sugar level over a period of time and show you charts and graphs of your past test results. You can get blood sugar meters and strips at your local pharmacy.
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If you take certain medication, like insulin or sulphonylureas, checking your blood sugars is a vital part of living with diabetes. It can help you work out when you need to take more medication, when you need to eat something or for when you want to get up and move around more.
Routine checks can help you know when you might be starting to go too low (called a hypo) or too high (called a hyper). It’s a way of getting to know your body and how it works. It can help you and your healthcare team spot patterns too. Do you write your results down? You might find that helpful.
Below are tips for how to use a blood sugar meter.
Make sure the meter is clean and ready to use.
After removing a test strip, immediately close the test strip container tightly. Test strips can be damaged if they are exposed to moisture.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dry well. Massage your hand to get blood into your finger. Don’t use alcohol because it dries the skin too much.
Use a lancet to prick your finger. Squeezing from the base of the finger, gently place a small amount of blood onto the test strip. Place the strip in the meter.
After a few seconds, the reading will appear. Track and record your results. Add notes about anything that might have made the reading out of your target range, such as food, activity, etc.
Properly dispose the lancet and strip in a trash container.
Do not share blood sugar monitoring equipment, such as lancets, with anyone, even other family members. For more safety information, please see Infection Prevention during Blood Glucose Monitoring and Insulin Administration.
Store test strips in the container provided. Do not expose them to moisture, extreme heat, or cold temperatures.