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Monitoring your blood sugar

When you have diabetes, checking your blood sugar with a glucose meter is essential to keeping your numbers within target range and staying healthy. But many people with diabetes don’t check their glucose as often as they should because they find it uncomfortable or inconvenient. If this sounds like you, you need to find more tolerable and convenient ways to test your blood sugar such as honing your testing technique and using different testing supplies. Try these tips to help improve your self-monitoring habits.

Test correctly

Even longtime users of glucose meters can make errors that affect their readings’ accuracy—and their comfort. Have your healthcare provider check your skills once a year. Follow these steps to help you get the best results:

  1. Wash your hands with warm water, then shake them below your waist.
  2. Choose a different finger every time you test. Rub the finger to “milk” it a few times.
  3. Prick your fingertip from the side, rather than the top, where it hurts less and is less likely to bruise.
  4. Place your blood drop on the test strip, insert the strip in the meter and wait for the results.

Factors that can skew your results include using a dirty meter, an outdated test strip, a test strip not at room temperature or a meter not calibrated for the current box of test strips or collecting a blood sample that’s too small.

Finding the right meter for you

Glucose meters come in a variety of types and can differ in several ways, such as the amount of blood needed to test, the speed of results and the device’s size and ability to store results in memory. Consider the meter’s and its test strips’ costs, too. New advances in glucose meters are making it easier and more comfortable to test your blood sugar. Ask your healthcare provider about testing methods that use some of these new features:

  • Specialized lancets. These allow you to adjust the prick depth.
  • Needle-free laser. This device uses a laser beam to vaporize a pinpoint of skin on your finger.
  • Alternate testing sites. Some meters use blood drops from places other than your fingertip, such as the upper arm, forearm, thigh or base of the thumb, which may be more comfortable for you.
  • InDuo pen. This device combines a glucose meter with an insulin injector pen.
  • GlucoWatch. This meter, worn like a wristwatch, tests your blood sugar through your skin via a special sensor. You’ll still need to test with a finger prick to calibrate the watch daily.
  • Continuous glucose monitoring. Using a catheter inserted just under your skin, this meter detects blood sugar levels—as many as several hundred times over two or three days—and records the information.

Don’t forget to keep good records of your readings and bring them to your doctors’ appointments. Your healthcare provider will use this information to help assess your glucose control and make any needed adjustments to your treatment plan.