Frequent Blood Sugar Test

If you have diabetes, self-testing your blood sugar (blood glucose) can be an important tool in managing your diabetes and preventing complications. You can use a device called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Or you can test your blood sugar at home with a portable electronic device called a blood sugar meter using a small drop of your blood.

Benifits of test your blood sugar

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Blood sugar testing provides useful information for diabetes management. It can help you:

  • Monitor the effect of diabetes medications on blood sugar levels
  • Identify blood sugar levels that are high or low
  • Track your progress in reaching your overall treatment goals
  • Learn how diet and exercise affect blood sugar levels
  • Understand how other factors, such as illness or stress, affect blood sugar levels

When to test your blood sugar

Your health care provider will let you know how often to check your blood sugar levels. The frequency of testing usually depends on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan.

Type 1 diabetes

Your health care provider may recommend blood sugar testing 4 to 10 times a day if you have type 1 diabetes. You may need to test:

  • Before meals and snacks
  • Before and after exercise
  • Before bed
  • During the night (sometimes)
  • More often if you're ill
  • More often if you change your daily routine
  • More often if you start a new medication

Type 2 diabetes

If you take insulin to manage type 2 diabetes, your health care provider may recommend blood sugar testing several times a day, depending on the type and amount of insulin you use. Testing is usually recommended before meals and at bedtime if you're taking multiple daily injections. You may need to test only before breakfast and sometimes before dinner or at bedtime if you use just an intermediate- or a long-acting insulin.

If you manage type 2 diabetes with noninsulin medications or with diet and exercise alone, you may not need to test your blood sugar daily.

How to test your blood sugar

  1. Wash and dry your hands well. (Food and other substances can give you an inaccurate reading.)
  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. Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood.
  5. The meter will display your blood sugar level on a screen after a few seconds.

Avoiding problems with your meter

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

  • Check the user's guide for your device for instructions — procedures may vary from one device to another.
  • Use a blood sample size as directed in the user's guide.
  • 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 health care provider's appointments to address any questions and to show how you use your meter.
  • Swab the injection site with an alcohol pad. Allow it to air dry for a few minutes before inserting the needle.

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