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A home blood glucose test measures the amount of a type of sugar, called glucose, in your blood at the time of testing. The test can be done at home or anywhere, using a small portable machine called a blood glucose meter.
Home blood sugar testing can be used to monitor your blood sugar levels. Talk with your doctor about how often to check your blood sugar. How often you need to check it depends on your diabetes treatment, how well your diabetes is controlled, and your overall health. People who take insulin to control their diabetes may need to check their blood sugar level often. Testing blood sugar at home is often called home blood sugar monitoring or self-testing.
If you use insulin rarely or don't use it at all, blood sugar testing can be very helpful in learning how your body reacts to foods, illness, stress, exercise, medicines, and other activities. Testing before and after eating can help you adjust what you eat.
Some types of glucose meters can store hundreds of glucose readings. This allows you to review collected glucose readings over time and to predict glucose levels at certain times of the day. It also allows you to quickly spot any major changes in your glucose levels. Some of these systems also allow information to be saved to a computer so that it can be turned into a graph or another easily analyzed form.
Some newer models of home glucose meters can communicate with insulin pumps. Insulin pumps are machines that deliver insulin through the day. The meter helps to decide how much insulin you need to keep your blood sugar level in your target range.
A home blood glucose test is an accurate way to measure your blood sugar level at the time of testing. If you have diabetes, testing your blood glucose levels at home provides information about:
Home blood sugar testing also may be used to:
You can buy home blood glucose testing equipment at a pharmacy and any grocery or discount store that has a pharmacy. You also may be able to buy the testing equipment and supplies through the mail or on the Internet.
The supplies you will need for testing blood glucose include:
To make sure you get accurate results when you test your blood sugar:
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form( What is a PDF document? ).
A home blood sugar test involves pricking your finger, palm, or forearm with a small needle (lancet) to collect a drop of blood and placing the blood on a special test strip, which you insert into the blood glucose meter before you begin the test. The blood glucose meter displays the results of a blood sugar test within a minute after testing.
The instructions for testing are slightly different for each model of home blood glucose meter. For accurate results, follow the instructions for your meter carefully. When testing blood sugar using a home blood glucose meter:
Safely dispose of your lancets after using them. Do not throw them into the household trash. A used lancet might accidentally stick someone. Place used lancets into a plastic container, such as an empty detergent bottle. Seal the container when it is about three-quarters full. Check with your local trash disposal agency about the proper disposal of lancets. Some agencies have specific instructions for the disposal of medical waste. Sometimes your doctor's office will dispose of them for you.
Your fingertips may get sore from frequent pricking for blood sugar testing. To help prevent sore fingertips:
There is very little risk of complications from testing your blood with a home blood sugar monitor.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that you stay within the following blood sugar level ranges. But, depending on your health, you and your doctor may set a different range for you.
For nonpregnant adults with diabetes
For women who have diabetes related to pregnancy (gestational diabetes) and women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who become pregnant
Many conditions can change blood glucose levels. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Proper care of the blood sugar testing equipment is important to ensure safety and to get accurate results.
CitationsAmerican Diabetes Association (2018). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2018. Diabetes Care, 41(Suppl 1): S1–S159. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/41/Supplement_1. Accessed December 8, 2017. Other Works ConsultedChernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.
Current as ofJuly 25, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineAlan C. Dalkin, MD -
Current as of: July 25, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Alan C. Dalkin, MD -
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