Blood Glucose Monitoring Tips for People with Diabetes

Written by Corie Richter, PA

Blood glucose monitoring is one of the more frightening parts of diabetes when you're first diagnosed. Whether you've had diabetes for years or just recently found out you have it, you can probably remember that moment of thinking—I have to prick myself how many times a day to test my blood glucose level?

However, blood glucose monitoring is just a routine—and not frightening—part of having diabetes. Being vigilant about blood glucose monitoring is one of the best steps you can take to keeping better control of your blood glucose levels. Plus, tight control lessens your likelihood of developing long-term diabetes complications (such as diabetic neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy).

This article discusses some of the more basic aspects of blood glucose monitoring: How often? And where?

How Often Should You Test Your Blood Glucose Level?
Initially (just after being diagnosed with diabetes), your doctor will likely ask that testing be done 4 times a day for an adult with type 2 diabetes—at least until they are certain that the medication is controlling the disease and the blood glucose is stable.

Those under 21 and people with type 1 diabetes may well need to test their blood glucose level more than that. Youngsters have a changing metabolism and activity level which can alter levels rapidly. Again, your doctor and diabetes treatment team will walk you through how often to test.

Those who are partake in arduous physical activity need to check their blood glucose level immediately prior to and after their workout (or manual labor—whatever extra exertion you were doing).

When you're ill, under stress, or have changed your usual activity pattern for the day, you'll probably need to check more frequently.

Your doctor will advise you of a blood glucose monitoring routine—and adjust it as time goes by. That's why you need to keep your doctor informed of any changes that are affecting your blood glucose levels and any patterns you notice when testing.

Where to Test Your Blood Glucose Level
Testing sites will greatly depend on the blood glucose meter you select.

Some strips require very small blood samples, and the lancet can be used anywhere on the body—such as forearm, abdomen, fingers, or ear lobes. Other testing strips require larger amounts of blood that can only be obtained from the fingertips for practical reasons.

Blood Glucose Monitoring Tips
Experience has taught people with diabetes that the least painful way to obtain the blood sample for blood glucose testing is to use fresh lancets in the lancet pen.

Use soap and water to prepare the site—not alcohol which tends to dry and crack the skin.

Rotate sites where you test your blood glucose level, if possible.

Keep in mind that every time you test your blood glucose level, you're taking good care of your diabetes and your overall health. Even this very practical, obvious reminder can help you feel more motivated to stay on top of your treatment plan.