Monitoring blood glucose
How do I monitor blood glucose?
To monitor your blood glucose levels (BGLs) you will need:
- a blood glucose meter
- a finger pricking device with a lancet (a very fine needle)
- test strips.
Before you begin, you will need to thoroughly wash and dry your hands. Prepare the meter by inserting the test strip. Prick your finger with the lancet to get a small drop of blood and apply the drop of blood to the test strip. The meter will provide you with a BGL reading within seconds.
Your doctor, diabetes educator or another member of your healthcare team can show you how to check your BGLs correctly. They can also help you choose the meter that is best for you and show you how to interpret the readings it provides.
Diabetes WA runs a short course on using and interpreting blood glucose meters. Read more about MonitorSmart.
How often should I monitor?
How often you check your BGLs will depend on how you are currently managing your diabetes. Discuss with your doctor and healthcare team how frequently you would like to monitor. Some people may monitor several times a day, others may only monitor a few times a week – ultimately it is your choice.
Remember that any changes in your daily routine will also affect your diabetes, and this may require you to monitor your BGLs more often for a period of time. You may decide to check more often if you:
- change the amount of time you are physically active (either more or less)
- become sick
- are stressed
- change your eating habits (for example, when you are travelling)
- adjust your medication
- experience symptoms of either hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia
- experience night sweats or morning headaches.
Keep a record
You may also choose to keep a record of your BGL readings. Most blood glucose meters on the market have software that will store your readings and allow you to download them to personal computers and other devices.
You might still like to write your BGL readings down in a diary, along with other relevant information such as the food you ate or the amount of exercise you completed. This will provide you and your health care team with a full picture of your routine, which is important in determining how well your diabetes is being managed and whether or not any adjustments to your medication or lifestyle should be made.
Blood glucose monitoring checklist
Sometimes an error code may appear on the meter or you may not feel that the result is accurate. The following checklist may helpful to problem solve issues that may occur:
- Did you wash and thoroughly dry your hands before doing the test?
- Are your BGL strips still in date?
- Is the BGL strip the right one for your meter?
- Was there enough blood on the BGL strip?
- Has the BGL strip been put into the meter the correct way?
- Is it possible the BGL strips have been affected by climate, heat or light?
- Is the meter clean?
- Is the meter too hot or too cold?
- Is the calibration code correct?
- Is the battery low or flat?
If you would like more information about monitoring your BGL, Diabetes WA runs a short course on using blood glucose meters and interpreting the readings. Read more about MonitorSmart.