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For people who have diabetes and other glucose metabolism issues, blood sugar testing is a valuable tool. It allows people to see exactly how much sugar is currently in their blood, so they can discover how diet and other factors are altering their blood sugar. For those who aren’t as familiar with how to test your blood sugar, here is a comprehensive guide to testing blood sugar levels at home.

When Should People Test Their Blood Sugar?

People always need to follow their doctor’s recommendations when trying to decide on the right time to test blood sugar. Usually, doctors suggest that patients need to test blood sugar before their meals and at bedtime. Those with type 1 diabetes normally need to test more often, sometimes checking after exercise and during the night. Some doctors may suggest testing their blood sugar between four to ten times a day. If you are beginning a new medication or starting a new routine, you may want to consider checking your blood sugar more frequently.

What Methods Are Used to Test Blood Sugar?

There are two main methods people use when they need to know what their blood sugar levels are. Some may have a continuous glucose monitor. This is an implanted device that checks blood sugar every few minutes and lets you know when it is at a problematic level. The other, more common method is a finger-stick test. This involves drawing a small amount of blood and using a device to measure glucose levels.

How Do you Use Finger-Stick Blood Sugar Tests?

Almost everyone who needs to check their blood sugar will end up using a finger-stick method. To start this process, patients should thoroughly wash and dry their hands. Then they should put a test strip in their meter, and gently prick the side of the fingertip with the lancet that the test kit provides. After allowing a drop of blood to collect on the finger, the patient should then put the blood on the edge of the test strip and read the meter’s screen to get their blood glucose level.

Are There Any Things That Can Cause a False Reading?

The same general procedure works for most meters, but patients should check their monitor’s instructions to make sure they do things correctly. It is important to always store test strips according to the instructions and quit using them once they expire. For accurate readings, regularly run quality-control checks on the machine to see how it performs.