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Overcoming Barriers to Blood Glucose Testing
Whether you’ve had diabetes for two months or twenty years, you’ve likely been told by your doctor that you need to regularly test your blood glucose. Having to prick your finger once, twice, or six times per day may not always be what you want to do, but it is an essential tool in diabetes self management. If you’re not testing right now then I advise you to keep reading, as you’ll walk away with some great tips!
First and foremost if you don’t have a glucometer (AKA a blood glucose testing machine) call your insurance company and see what brand of glucometer is covered under your insurance plan. If you don’t have insurance, go to your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist what glucometers they have for sale. Most stores carry different brands, including pharmacy-brand glucometers that tend to be more affordable than brand-name devices.
Now that you have the glucometer you need to know how to use it. The glucometer will come with instructions, and to start, it is a good idea to read through them. In addition, consider making an appointment with a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)—he or she can teach you how to use your device properly.
So now you have your meter, you know how to use it, but you still aren’t testing your blood sugar. Are you not testing because pricking your finger hurts?
If that’s the case, try briefly numbing your finger with ice when you’re ready to test. But be careful—numbing it for too long could cause vasoconstriction, which might not give a big enough blood sample.
Always remember to wash your hands right before you test. I also suggest bringing your glucometer to your next CDE appointment. Show your CDE how you’re testing and see if your lancing device, the reusable instrument that holds lancets, or “little needles,” is on the right setting. Lancing devices have an adjustable depth setting, which means you can adjust it to a setting that is comfortable for your skin type.
Does testing frustrate you because you don’t know what the numbers should be? Below are the guidelines from the American Diabetes Association for most nonpregnant adults with diabetes:
- Fasting blood sugar (or before meals): 70-130 mg/dL
- Two hours after any meal: Less than 180 mg/dL
It’s important that you speak with your health care provider about what your personal blood sugar targets are, as each individual may need different ranges. The foods you eat, exercise, medications, and stress can all affect blood sugar—it’s important to test regularly so you can better understand what’s going on with your body. Keeping track of your blood sugar will help you see how your diabetes regimen is working. Always remember to bring your meter and logbook to your doctor, nurse, dietitian, or CDE. Blood sugar testing is an ideal means to optimize your diabetes management.