When you are diagnosed with diabetes, one of the first things that your clinic will do is to give you a blood glucose monitoring kit (a glucometer). It is vital that you learn how to use this kit because checking blood glucose levels allows you to better manage your diabetes. These readings will help you and your diabetes team know when you need more or less insulin.
How often should I check my bg levels?
According to Diabetes Canada’s Clinical Practice Guidelines, people with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 who are on insulin, should at minimum be checking their blood glucose levels at least three times per day. “More frequent testing before meals, two hours after meals, as well as overnight is often required to provide information to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia and well as night-time lows.”
Most people living with type 1 diabetes who wish to maintain tight control are checking their blood glucose at least 8-16 times per day. They will want to monitor their range after food, before and after exercise, as well as during illness and times of stress. This information allows them to make changes to doses as well as to correct high or low blood sugars throughout the day and night.
Which glucometer should I use?
There are many different glucometers available. Just like finding the right insulin pump for you, finding the right glucometer is a personal decision. You can use the kit that your clinic sent you home with or you can consult with your local pharmacy to find one that better fits your needs.
According to Top Ten Reviews, the Dario LC Blood glucose management system is the best overall blood glucose meter. It requires only 0.3 microliters of blood, gives results in under six seconds and does not require a battery.
The Accu-Chek Guide gets their stamp of approval as the best for sampling ease. It provides results in four seconds but also requires 0.6 microliters of blood.
They rate the Bayer Contour Next One as having the best smart features. It gives results in five seconds but requires 0.6 microliters of blood.
A 2018 study published in the American Diabetes Association Journal also listed the Bayer Contour Next as the best glucometer, followed by the Roche Accu-Chek Aviva Plus meter.
How do I check my blood glucose?
Every glucometer is different but here are the basic steps to check your blood glucose levels.
- Thoroughly clean your hands.
- Remove a test strip from the container that goes with your glucometer and insert it into your machine. This will turn on the glucometer.
- Wait for the blood drop icon to appear.
- In the meantime, lance your finger with a small, sharp needle called a lancet or poker.
- Bring the fresh drop of blood to the side of a test strip and allow the blood to be sucked into the strip.
- Within approximately 5 seconds a reading will appear on the glucometer’s screen.
- Log the reading down in your logbook and follow your diabetes care team’s instructions on whether or not you need to correct the reading with more insulin, eat more food to bring up a low blood glucose level, or if you are fine to continue with your current activities.
If these guidelines differ from what you were advised by your clinic or the glucometer manufacturer, always follow the instructions that you received from them. These guidelines for your reference only and do not replace medical advice.
Should I use a continuous glucose monitor or a glucometer?
Some continuous glucose monitors (CGM) and flash monitoring systems like the Dexcom G6 and Libre do not require you to calibrate with a glucometer. The decision of whether to use one of these systems or not is a personal one that should be discussed with your diabetes team.
If you do use a CGM, make sure to always use a glucometer if you feel that the readings are off or you feel that you are low but your sensor says otherwise.
Learn more about what to consider when purchasing a CGM.
What do I do with my glucometer readings?
It is important to keep track of your blood glucose readings. This can be done digitally by uploading your readings to an app provided by the manufacturer or saving them on an excel spreadsheet. You can also manually log your readings on sheets or in a logbook.
No matter how the information is stored, it is important to review it regularly. You can do this with your diabetes team as well as on your own. While your diabetes team may not want you to make adjustments, you will be able to see times when you are having problems and bring it to their attention in between your scheduled appointments.