How to Check Blood Sugar with Test Strips and a Glucose Meter
If you’re among the more than 34 million Americans living with diabetes, chances are, you’re testing blood sugar multiple times a day. If you’re the parent of a child with diabetes or the caregiver to an older individual with diabetes, you might be the one responsible for testing their blood sugar each day.
Though more and more individuals are being prescribed continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGM) by their diabetes physicians, the majority of individuals with diabetes still test their blood sugar levels using a glucose meter and compatible test strips.
For most, the blood sugar testing process becomes a matter of routine, which is beneficial for daily management but can also lead to complacency when it comes to taking all the necessary safety precautions.
In this post, we’ll look at the proper way to safely test blood sugar using a glucose meter and touch on some of the more common mistakes people make, some of which can have serious health consequences.
Components of blood sugar testing using a glucose meter
Every time you test using a glucose meter, you’ll need the following:
- The glucose meter used to read blood sugar measurements
- Lancet, a sharp and sanitary device used to prick the finger. Sometimes called a fingerstick
- Lancing device, a device that quickly deploys the lancet to prick the finger
- Compatible test strip that reacts with a blood sample to provide blood sugar reading.
Glucose meter testing procedure
- Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. Dry completely using a clean towel.
- Insert a fresh lancet into the lancing device.
- Prepare the glucose meter for reading by inserting a compatible test strip into the meter following instructions. There are many quality glucose meters on the market, such as the Accu-Chek Aviva Plus, Contour Next One by Bayer, and the OneTouch Ultra 2 glucose meter. There is no right or wrong one to choose, however, your diabetes physician may offer recommendations based on your diabetes testing plan, lifestyle, age, vision, cost, and insurance coverage.
- Using the lancing device with the lancet already inserted, quickly press down and prick the tip of the finger. It’s usually recommended to prick towards either side of the fingertip to avoid irritation after testing. With some glucose meters, testing sites other than the finger can be used, such as the forearm. These sites may be slightly less painful than a fingertip, however, blood drawn from a fingertip tends to give the most accurate blood sugar reading.
- Allow a small drop of blood to form on the fingertip and apply it to the test strip which is already inserted into the glucose meter. If you have trouble getting a good drop of blood, try holding your hand under warm running water for 10 seconds and then shake it gently. This often helps get the blood flowing. Be sure to dry hand thoroughly before applying blood to the test strip.
- Read your glucose meter which should show blood sugar level in large numerals on a digital display.
- Dispose of the used test strip and the lancet in a “sharps container”. Do not throw them out in the regular trash as this may expose others. Dispose of sharps container following local health and waste collection protocol in your area.
Rules of Safe Glucose Meter Testing
Testing blood sugar when following the steps listed above should lead to a safe, sanitary, and accurate blood glucose measurement. That being said there are a few key rules to remember when testing blood glucose that will ensure it is as safe as possible. These rules should be followed by everyone, particularly those who are administering tests for others and, therefore, may come in contact with blood samples. These include parents caring for young children and caregivers to elderly individuals who have diabetes. The rules are:
- Lancets (fingersticks) should only be used once and only after being removed directly from their sealed packaging. NEVER reuse lancets as they may contain bacteria. Lancets also dull after a single use which can lead to more painful finger pricks.
- NEVER share lancets or lancing devices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has become increasingly concerned about the risk of transmitting infectious disease, including hepatitis B (HBV), through sharing supplies and improper blood sugar testing.
- Whenever possible DO NOT share glucose meters. It’s always best to have one meter per person. If glucose meters must be shared, be sure it is a device that can be cleaned and sanitized after each use following manufacturer instructions. If there are no manufacturer instructions for sharing, do not share the glucose meter.
- If you are a caregiver testing another person, wear disposable examination gloves when possible. This should be a matter of procedure in a healthcare environment, but it’s also a good idea to practice at home. If that’s not possible, wash hands thoroughly after testing, even if no contact with blood was made.
- Dispose of used test strips and lancets in an FDA-approved sharps container.
Individuals with diabetes have used glucose meters and test strips to measure blood sugar for decades. It is a safe, easy, and affordable way to improve blood sugar control and better manage your diabetes. However, it’s important to follow proper usage and disposal instructions to protect yourself and others against infection. When you do test right, it greatly reduces your risk of problems and increases the accuracy of each blood sugar measurement.
We hope you found this post interesting and informative. At Diabetic Warehouse, we committed to keeping you up to date with the latest news and insights on living with diabetes. We’re also proud to help you stick to your doctor-prescribed diabetes treatment plan with a huge selection of diabetic supplies and equipment at prices up to 65% less than you’ll find at pharmacies and other suppliers.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.