Blood sugar testing is an essential part of treating and controlling diabetes. Knowing your blood sugar levels quickly can help you be aware when your blood sugar level has fallen or risen outside the target range. In some cases, this will help prevent an emergency situation. You’ll also be able to record and track your blood glucose readings over time, monitoring how exercise, food, and medicine affect your levels.
Luckily, testing your blood glucose level can be done just about anywhere and at any time. In as little as a minute or two, you can test your blood and have a reading using an at-home blood sugar meter or blood glucose monitor.
How to Test Your Blood Sugar
Whether you test once a day or several times, following a testing routine will help you prevent infection, return true results, and better monitor your blood sugar. Here’s a step-by-step routine you can follow:
1. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water. Then dry them well with a clean towel. If you use an alcohol swab, be sure to let the area dry completely before testing.
2. Prepare a clean lancet device—the spring-loaded device that holds the needle (lancet) that you will use to prick the end of your finger—by inserting a clean needle.
3. Remove one test strip from your bottle or box of strips, being sure to close it completely so as to avoid contaminating the other strips with dirt or moisture.
4. All modern meters now have you insert the strip into the meter before you collect blood, so you can add the blood sample to the strip when it is in the meter. (With some older meters, you put the blood on the strip first, and then put the strip in the meter.)
4. Stick the side of your fingertip with the lancet. Some blood sugar machines allow for testing from different sites on your body, such as the arm. Read your device’s manual to make sure you’re drawing blood from the correct place.
5. Collect a drop of blood on the test strip, being sure you have an adequate amount for a reading. Be careful to let only the blood, not your skin, touch the strip. Residue from food or medication may affect the test’s results.
6. Stop the bleeding by holding a clean cotton ball or gauze pad on the end of the finger. Apply pressure on the fingertip until the bleeding has stopped.
Four Keys to Successful Blood Sugar Monitoring
1. Keep your meter and supplies (lancets, alcohol swabs, testing strips, and so on) with you at all times.
2. Make sure your testing strips aren’t expired. Out-of-date strips are not guaranteed to return true results. Old strips and inaccurate results may affect your daily log of blood glucose numbers, and your doctor may think there is a problem when there really isn’t. Also, keep the strips out of sunlight and away from moisture. Keep them at room temperature or cooler, but not freezing.
3. With the help of your doctor, establish a routine for how often and when you should test your blood sugar. He may suggest checking it while you’re fasting, before and after meals, or before bedtime. But each person’s situation is different, so it’s important to decide on an arrangement that will work for you. When you have that schedule, make checking your blood part of your daily routine—build it into your day. Many meters have alarms that you can set to help you to remember to test. When it’s part of the day, you will be less likely to forget. This will help you build a more accurate log of your blood sugar levels at various times during the day.
4. Don’t assume that your meter is correct. Most meters come with a control solution that allows you to test to see how accurate your meter and/or strips are. Take your blood glucose meter with you to your next doctor’s appointment. Compare your results with those of his or her machine to see whether there are any possible discrepancies.
Preventing Sore Fingertips
Frequent and repeated testing can cause sore fingertips. Here are a few suggestions that may help prevent that:
1. Do not reuse a lancet. They can become dull, which may make pricking your fingers painful.
2. Be sure to prick the side of your finger, not the pad. Pricking the end of your finger can be more painful.
3. Though it may be a tempting way to produce more blood quickly, do not squeeze your fingertip vigorously. Instead, hang your hand and arm down, allowing blood to pool in your fingertips. You can also help increase blood flow by washing your hands with warm water. If you still have too little blood, you can squeeze your finger, but start at the part closest to your palm, working your way down your finger until you have enough.
4. Do not test on the same finger each time. As part of your routine, establish which finger you will use and when so that you never repeat on the same finger during the same day.
5.If a finger becomes sore anyway, avoid prolonging the pain by not using it for several days. Use a different finger if possible.
6. If you have chronic finger pain as a result of testing, see your doctor about changing glucose monitors. Some monitors can use blood drawn from other parts of the body.