To manage diabetes at home, the patient is required to check their blood sugar on a daily basis; the SMBG (self-monitoring of blood glucose) technique plays an important role in this. Following the correct process when taking SMBG readings is essential though. There are few common mistakes that can lead to false readings sometimes, which is a serious problem when you have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or if you want to achieve a certain blood sugar goal. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to get the correct blood sugar reading via SMBG.

(Read more: Blood sugar test)

  1. Why you should check your sugar level on a regular basis
  2. Who needs to self monitor their blood glucose regularly
  3. Factors that affect blood glucose levels
  4. When to check your blood glucose levels
  5. Supplies needed to check your sugar at home
  6. Steps to follow when checking blood glucose levels at home
  7. Things to remember when you are checking your blood sugar at home
Doctors for SMBG: How to check blood sugar levels at home

Following are the benefits of self-monitoring your blood glucose regularly:

  • It gives you a quick measurement of your blood glucose level at a given time.
  • It can determine if you have a high or low blood glucose level at a given time.
  • It can show you how your lifestyle and medication affect your blood glucose levels.
  • It can help you and your diabetes healthcare team assess the need to take action (whether lifestyle or medication changes) that helps you improve your blood glucose levels.

(Read more: First-aid for low blood sugar)

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Following are a few conditions and situations in which you need to check your blood sugar regularly:

  • If you are taking insulin or oral diabetes medication
  • If you are in a vulnerable group (pregnant, children or elderly)
  • If you are experiencing difficulty controlling your blood glucose levels
  • If your blood sugar level is low without the usual warning signs
  • If you are feeling sick or have ketones
  • If you want to change your medication
  • If you want to work on your eating habits or physical activity pattern

(Read more: Diabetes in children)

A few factors that can increase or decrease your blood sugar levels need to be given extra care and attention.

For high blood sugar levels, these factors are:

(Read more: Home remedies for stress)

For low blood sugar levels, these factors are:

  • Eating less
  • Medication
  • Exercise

(Read more: Diabetes diet)

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You and your healthcare team will determine when you should test your blood sugar based on your type and duration of diabetes, current health status, age, level of activity and some other factors. They may suggest that you test:

  • Before a meal
  • 1-2 hours after a meal
  • Bedtime
  • In the middle of the night or early morning
  • When you feel sugar levels may be falling or too high
  • When there is a change in routine, diet or medication/insulin
  • Before, during or after exercise
  • When you’re feeling sick or under stress

(Read more: Exercise for diabetes)

Following tools are required for you to have at home to correctly check your blood sugar levels:

  • Blood glucose meter
  • Test strip
  • Lancet or small needle
  • Lancing device
  • Alcohol wipes or soap and water
  • Self-test logbook

(Read more: What is prediabetes)

After arranging these supplies, you need to follow these steps for a correct reading:

  • Wash and dry your hands well with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol swab. Food and other substances can give you an inaccurate reading.
  • Do milking or rub your finger for better blood flow.
  • Insert a test strip into your meter.
  • Prick the side of your fingertip with the needle (lancet) provided with your test kit.
  • Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood.
  • The meter will display your blood sugar level on a screen after a few seconds.
  • Note down your blood sugar in a notebook or chart.

(Read more: Gestational diabetes)

There are a few important things you should keep in mind while testing your blood sugar at home.

  • The testing area should be clean and dry.
  • Your finger should be milked from base to tip to obtain a sufficient drop of blood.
  • Change the lancet frequently as reused lancets can become dull and hurt more.
  • The meter should be clean and calibrated properly. The code of the test strips box and meter should be the same.
  • The strips should not be outdated/expired or left in the open, as that can give false results.
  • Maintain a proper record of your blood glucose levels with your comments.

(Read more: Ayurvedic treatment, medicines and remedies for diabetes)

Dr. Surbhi Agrawal

Dr. Surbhi Agrawal

Diabetology
11 Years of Experience

Dr. Sweta S

Dr. Sweta S

Diabetology
9 Years of Experience

Dr. Khushali Vyas

Dr. Khushali Vyas

Diabetology
11 Years of Experience

Dr. Pradeep Aggarwal

Dr. Pradeep Aggarwal

Diabetology
11 Years of Experience

References

  1. International Diabetes Federation [Internet]
  2. Schnell Oliver, et al. Clinical Utility of SMBG: Recommendations on the Use and Reporting of SMBG in Clinical Research. Diabetes Care. 2015 Sep; 38(9): 1627-1633.

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