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Home Blood Glucose Monitoring for People with Diabetes

Interpreting the Results of Your Glucometer

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Checking your blood sugar at home, sometimes called self blood glucose monitoring (SBGM), is an important step in diabetes management. Because individualized diabetes care is associated with better diabetes management, it is important to get your doctor's advice on how often you should test your blood sugar. This includes recommendations for what time of the day you should test your blood sugar, and your personal target ranges for blood sugar control. This article is intended to provide general guidelines for SBGM in order to enhance discussion with your doctor. It is not a substitute for your physician's guidance.

When testing your blood sugar at home, it is important to talk to your doctor or certified diabetes educator about each of the following, which we'll discuss in detail below:
  1. Choosing the best glucose meter for you
  2. Using good technique when testing your blood sugar
  3. When should you test your blood sugar?
  4. How to use and interpret the numbers on the screen
  5. Proper disposal of used testing supplies
How do I choose the best glucometer?
Today, there are many quality-made home blood glucose meters on the market. Choosing the right one for you can be a little overwhelming, so here are some factors to consider.

Many health insurance plans offer some type of coverage for diabetes testing supplies. However, in many cases, your insurance company may recommend a "preferred meter" or a "preferred brand" that must be used in order to avoid paying a high co-pay. It is best to call your insurance company and ask if there is a preferred brand of glucometer. It may be financially wise for you to use the preferred meter to limit your ongoing costs.

Diabetes supplies can be expensive. Test strips for most branded meters cost roughly $1 per strip—this can add up to $30 to more than $100 per month depending on how often you test. If you do not have health insurance and must therefore pay out-of-pocket for your testing supplies, using an off-brand or private label meter may help ease the financial strain. These are fairly easy to find in most pharmacies and test strips typically cost about half the price of the brand-name strips, so shop around.

If you have physical limitations, there are many glucometers on the market today that are well suited for people with arthritis or conditions that limit the use of their fingers and hands. Many meters also have features that are useful for people who are visually impaired. Choose the meter that is easiest for you to use if you have a particular need.
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About The Author

Amy L. Poetker Amy L. Poetker
Amy Poetker is a licensed and registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with a master's degree in dietetics. Amy, who has spent most of her career working in diabetes education, is dedicated to the treatment of that disease and the prevention of related complications. See all of Amy's articles.

Member Comments

    Sugar or glucose in the blood is the main source of energy for our body. When its level rises too high, our body shows a sign of diabetes. Diabetic people usually have to check their blood glucose or sugar level frequently which helps in managing severe complications. It can be determined with a simple blood glucose monitoring device like present at http://www.ilexme
    ducts.php?id=43 and other sites.

    It is one of the crucial step in diabetes management. However, you need to talk your doctor's advice on how often and what time of the day you should do testing, they will specifically suggest the right guidelines to manage the disease. - 12/7/2015 6:14:33 AM
  • IRISRT36
    Good article. .... I would like to know how to translate the readings for Canadian diabetics. Thank you. - 11/5/2015 4:14:16 PM
    I would love to be able to read "all" of the articles that I select to read. These "ads" are very annoying. Why can't they put them in an out-of-the-way place? I don't mind the ads - just want to be able to read my articles. There may be something very important under them ads!!
    - 10/20/2013 1:14:54 PM

    Try the MY TRACKERS orange tab in the center section. Take the dropdown MY WEIGHT. You'll see it has Glucose section slightly down the page. - 9/20/2013 4:38:55 AM
    Confirmed through my county in Mid-Michigan that a detergent or softener jug is perfect and acceptable. Label it SHARPS as well as DO NOT RECYCLE. I'll keep this in the garage due to the size. Daily use is a hard container with wide lid such as a vitamin bottle marked the same. When several days have passed and the small bottle can be emptied I'll pour the contents into the larger container.

    Once a year there's a recycle program where I can drop this off responsibly. Alternately I can take it to one of the waste management offices for drop off.

    Seems pretty easy. This blog entry is just to confirm how my county works with this program which may be similar to yours. - 9/20/2013 4:35:34 AM
    Where on Sparkpeople do I log my glucose values and see my graphs? - 2/19/2013 11:08:07 PM
  • To convert to mmol/l (Australian) divide the mg/dl by 18. So 300mg/dl is 16.7mmol/l. - 2/14/2013 7:08:08 AM
    Australian blood sugar levels are recorded differently to American .....we record ours in whole numbers eg a reading of 5 or 6 before dinner. or a hypo reading at 3.4 etc I cant work out what is right by your calculations. - 2/1/2013 1:14:39 AM
  • Thank you for this informative article. I guess I need to make me a 'sharps' jug. That's a great tip.

    I'd sure like to see an article about the effect insomnia has on fasting blood sugar readings. Also, what to do about it.

    Renie - 10/4/2012 8:30:43 AM
  • I have been recording my blood glucose readings, but had been unable to get a report to generate. I realize now that I'm recording Canadian measurements so I suppose it wont work with the existing system.
    It would be nice if there were an option of system to enter in, or at least a conversion calculator available. Also, since 'carb choices' seem universal, a carb choice counter that tracks our entered carb info, less the fibre in the food, would be handy.
    And one other thing... several articles have stated that the timing of meals is important to keep blood sugars steady. If there were a way to record what time we had each meal I think it would be handy. Please and thanks. - 4/21/2012 4:56:32 PM
  • Some fire departments give free Sharps containers, and you can take them back to them for dropoff and get a new one.
    Just an FYI! - 11/11/2011 7:41:15 AM
  • This article is a good reminder for me, but I also learned something new. I didn't know there was a difference in post-meal recommendations depending on which "experts" were giving the information. My doctor apparently follows the American College of Endocrinology recommendations rather than those from the American Diabetes Association. It's also interesting how different the recommendations are. - 2/17/2011 9:43:15 AM
  • I love the article and instructions, BUT, as I am a Canadian, our blood sugar levels are recorded differently from the American Diabetes Association. It would be nice if you could make those changes to reflect our way of recording.
    Thks. - 1/3/2011 11:48:39 AM

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