How to test your blood sugar

Blood sugar testing requires the use of a small electronic device called a glucose meter. The meter reads the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip, that you place on a disposable test strip. Your doctor or diabetes educator can recommend an appropriate device for you.

Your doctor or diabetes educator can also help you learn how to use a meter.

Follow the instructions that come with your glucose meter. In general, here's how the process works:

  1. Wash and dry your hands well.
  2. Insert a test strip into your meter.
  3. Prick the side of your fingertip with the needle (lancet) provided with your test kit.
  4. Gently squeeze or massage your finger until a drop of blood forms.
  5. Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood.
  6. The meter will display your blood glucose level on a screen after a few seconds.

If your meter can test blood taken from an alternate site, such as the forearm or palm, it's important to understand that these readings may not be as accurate as readings from the fingertips, especially after a meal or during exercise when glucose levels change more frequently.

Recording your results

Each time you test your blood sugar, log the results. Record the date, time, test results, medication and dosage, and diet and exercise information. Bring your record of results with you to all appointments with your doctor. Talk to your doctor about what to do and when to call when you get results that don't fall within the normal range of your target goals.

Avoiding problems with meter usage

Blood sugar meters need to be used and maintained properly. Follow these tips to ensure proper usage:

  • Follow the user manual for your device — procedures may vary from one device to another.
  • Use a blood sample size as directed in the manual.
  • Use only test strips designed for your meter.
  • Store test strips as directed.
  • Don't use expired test strips.
  • Clean the device and run quality-control checks as directed.
  • Bring the meter to your doctor appointments to address any questions and to demonstrate how you use your meter.
Dec. 20, 2014 See more In-depth