Learn How to Test Your Blood Sugar

Insulin resistance is a common concern for people who are overweight or have a sedentary lifestyle or for women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Insulin resistance, often a precursor to diabetes, occurs when the body is unable to use insulin properly, and it causes high blood sugar levels. 

If your healthcare provider suggests that you begin monitoring your blood sugar levels, it is very important that you do so regularly and consistently. Early monitoring and intervention are keys to early detection and to preventing complications associated with diabetes.

Equally important is the maintenance of a nutritious, low sugar diet and a regular exercise program. The following are only general guidelines, so please be sure to refer to the instructions of your healthcare provider. If you have never done it before, testing your blood sugar may seem intimidating, but after a few times, you should be a pro at it.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Required: 10 minutes
Nurse using insulin pen on patients finger
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Here's How

What You Need

  • Glucometer (please also refer to the directions enclosed with your meter)
  • Lancet
  • Alcohol Pad
  • Band-aid (if necessary)
  • Sharps container

Once you have your supplies, you can follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Place the test strip in the meter as directed. This will turn the meter on.
  3. Make sure that your meter has been set using the controls as indicated by the instructions. Many glucometers require coding, which means checking to make sure the code on the test strip bottle matches the code in the meter.
  4. Swipe your fingertip with an alcohol pad. Allow it to air dry.
  5. Using the lancing device that came with your meter, prick your fingertip to expose a drop of blood.
  6. Touch and hold the strip to the drop of blood to draw the blood into the strip and wait for the meter to read the blood.
  7. Once you have your results, dispose of the test strip and turn off the meter. Apply a band-aid as necessary.
  8. Dispose of the lancet in a properly labeled sharps container. You can make your own sharps container using an old laundry detergent bottle or another thick plastic container. Be sure to label it properly.
  9. Record your result, along with the date and time in your blood sugar log. Some meters may do this for you. Refer to the instructions to determine if yours does.
  10. Administer insulin, if necessary, according to your healthcare provider's instructions.

Tips

  1. Use the sides of your fingertips, rather than the center or tops, which are more sensitive and can hurt more.
  2. Make sure to alternate fingertips and locations each time you check your blood sugar to prevent soreness.
  3. If the drop of blood is not sufficient, lower your finger and squeeze the finger (using the opposite hand) toward where you pricked it, kind of like you are "milking" it. If you routinely have this problem, try warming up your hands by running under warm water prior to testing.
  4. Your practitioner may recommend measuring your blood sugar first thing in the morning, before or after meals, and/or before bed. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
  5. Normal blood sugar levels vary depending on when you test. According to the American Diabetes Association, premeal readings are considered in the range between 80 and 130 mg/dL. Postmeal readings should be under 180 mg/dL. Your healthcare provider may have different target ranges for you, particularly if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
  6. If your blood sugar is low — below 60 mg/dL — eat a piece of candy, or drink a glass of orange juice promptly.
  7. If your glucose level is high, you should drink water and get some gentle exercise, or administer insulin according to your healthcare provider's instructions.

High blood sugar in a person with diabetes or who is dependent on insulin can lead to a serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, which requires immediate medical attention.

Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Blood Glucose Testing. American Diabetes Association website. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/. 

By Nicole Galan, RN
Nicole Galan, RN, is a registered nurse and the author of "The Everything Fertility Book."