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Blood Glucose Monitoring

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Since home glucose monitoring was introduced in 1980 with the Dextrometer, we've come a very long way in terms of accuracy, technology, and interoperability.  The glucose meters of yesteryear used large drops of blood, color-changing test strips, and required upwards of two minutes to produce a result. Today's meters use minuscule blood samples, come in a variety of styles and colors, and getting the data into your computer, onto your phone, and into the cloud is easier than ever before.

But what is blood glucose monitoring? How do you do it? What meters are available, and how do you use them?

The Blood Glucose Basics

  1. Wash and dry your hands.
  2. Insert a test strip into your meter.
  3. Using a clean lancet or a lancing device, prick your finger.  (Some people prefer to prick the top of their finger, others prefer the side. Your diabetes may vary.)
  4. Squeeze your finger gently until a drop of blood appears.
  5. Touch the blood drop against the testing pad of the test strip (these are clearly marked on the strip itself)
  6. After approximately 5 seconds, your meter screen will show your blood glucose result.
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What Should My Blood Glucose Result Be?

Everyone's diabetes is a little bit different, and you and your medical team may have decided on a specific blood sugar range that's right for you.  The American Diabetes Association recommends:

  • Before a meal (preprandial plasma glucose): 80–130 mg/dL
  • 1-2 hours after beginning of the meal (postprandial plasma glucose)*: Less than 180 mg/dL
  • A1C goal of < 7%

How Do I Prick My Finger?

Glucose meters require a drop of blood, and there are several lancing devices available for PWD.  Most often, a lancing device is included when you purchase a glucose meter but you can always switch to whatever lancing device works best for you.  (Just be sure to change your lancet regularly - a fresh lancet hurts less and keeps infection to a minimum!)

For tips on making fingerpicking less painful and more productive, Taking the Sting Out of Fingerpricks by the team at diaTribe is a good resource.

Interested in a non-invasive way of monitoring your blood glucose? Check out our information on continuous glucose monitoring.

What Glucose Meters are Available?

There are dozens of different meters you can use to check your blood glucose, and Diabetes Forecast magazine publishes a terrific consumer guide each year, itemizing what's available for PWD.  Check out their list and be sure to check with your insurance company to see what's covered under your plan. 

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