Check your Blood Glucose

Reviewed and updated by Di Bush, PhD

Check your Blood Glucose
Reviewed and updated by Di Bush, PhD, Jan 1. 2014

Checking Your Blood Glucose Allows You to

check the pattern of your blood glucose levels so you can make changes in your diet and exercise program or insulin dose.

  • measure how changes in exercise, diet and insulin are helping your blood glucose level.
  • respond quickly to an increase or decrease in your blood sugar.
  • create a treatment plan that will be best for you during an illness, together with your healthcare team best

Your healthcare team may recommend you test:

Before meals

  • 2 hours after a meal
  • At bedtime
  • At 3 a.m.
  • When you sense that your blood glucose level is high
  • More often on sick days

You may need fewer tests once you have a good idea of your blood glucose patterns.

Equipment Needed

  • Lancet Device
  • Lancets
  • Test Strips
  • Meter
  • Alcohol Wipes (optional)
  • Log Book

All tests use a drop of blood. The side of the tip of the middle or ring finger is the best and least painful place to obtain blood for most people, but you can use any finger, or even an earlobe for testing. Using the same finger (or pair of fingers) allows a callus or calluses to build up, making the testing less painful as time goes on.

Here are the steps for getting a drop of blood:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and warm water and dry them well or
  2. Clean the area with alcohol and dry well.
  3. Prick the fingertip with a small, pronged lancet. A spring lancet device gives a quick puncture with less pain.
  4. Hold your hand down, and “milk” the finger from the palm towards the tip. If little blood appears, wait a couple seconds and milk again. Do not squeeze close to the puncture.
  5. Turn your hand palm down, so that the drop hangs.
  6. Catch the drop of blood on the special test strip pad or test area.
  7. Follow the instructions given with your SMBG sensor or meter, and the instructions from your diabetes educator, for testing your blood glucose.
  8. Record your test result.

What should my blood glucose levels be?

Your personal goal for your blood glucose level depends on your age, type of diabetes, how long you’ve had it, overall health status, lifestyle, and desire for control. Here are some guidelines:

Time: Excellent Good Fair Poor
Before a Meal (or fasting) 60-100 100-140 140-180 over 180
After a Meal 110-140 140-180 180-220 over 220

Your healthcare team will help you set your goals. For some people, a blood sugar level below 80 mg is too low, while for others a level under 100 mg is too low. A level over 120 before a meal is too high for some, while for others it is normal.


It is vital that you keep a record of your test results. You and your healthcare team will use the results to make safe changes to your diet, exercise plan and insulin or medicines. Make sure your blood glucose test record includes any events such as illness, stress or changes in your exercise program.

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