Diabetes is a disease condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) levels shoot too high. Every individual having diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels regularly. Self-testing blood sugar levels is a vital tool in the management of disease and health issues that result from diabetes. How to test blood sugar is a concern for many diabetics. Let’s get you sorted with all the information about blood sugar testing and its results below.
Knowing your test results and target sugar levels help to make an effective treatment plan and keep the disease in check. What can be better if you can save your visits to the lab to do the tests? You can test your blood sugar levels at home with a portable device (glucometer) that measures sugar level in a small drop of your blood samples.
What Is A Blood Sugar Test?
The procedure to measure the amount of glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream is referred to as a blood sugar test. This test may be prescribed by your physician to diagnose hyperglycemia or diabetes. People with diabetes use this test to take regular readings of their sugar levels and manage the condition.
Read on why and how to test blood sugar at home, when and who should be taking the test, what does the blood sugar test results chart indicate?
Why You Should Check Your Blood Sugar?
Blood sugar testing or self-monitoring of blood sugar provides useful information required in diabetes management. The blood sugar results can help you:
- Understand if you require any change in your diet and lifestyle habits
- Understand how exercise and eating habits affect blood glucose levels
- Know the other factors that affect sugar levels
- Judge how you’re reaching your overall treatment goals
- Know if the treatment is working and manage medications or insulin accordingly
- Identify how high or low are your blood sugar levels
Low blood sugar levels can cause seizures or coma if left untreated. On the other hand, high blood sugar levels can lead to ketoacidosis, nerve damage, cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, and eye diseases.
Ways To Test Your Blood Sugar
Traditional Home Glucose Monitoring
In this traditional method to check blood sugar levels, you prick your finger with a lancet (sharp needle), put a drop of your blood in the test strips and place it into a glucometer that displays your blood glucose levels.
There are different glucometers available in the market with different features, speed, size, portability, readability, and cost. These devices give you accurate results in less than a few seconds. You can also store the test readings for future use.
There are various advanced models of glucometers that come with a larger screen display or spoken instructions in case of vision problems. Some glucometers calculate average glucose levels over a period of time and provide graphs and charts to manage your data. Blood sugar test machines and test strips are readily available at the drugstore.
Meters Testing Blood Sugar Without Pricking Finger
Finger pricks every time you measure your sugar levels can be painful. To avoid such a situation many pharmaceutical companies have invented devices that let you use other parts of the body to test your blood sugar levels. You can test your thigh, upper arm, forearm, and base of your thumb using such devices.
The results from these devices may differ after meals or exercise. Blood sugar levels from fingertips are more accurate in cases where levels change more quickly. People with low blood sugar should prefer traditional meters.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) System
The CGM is a device that doesn’t require you to prick your fingers. They test your blood sugar levels with the help of sensors placed on your arm. Some of them may be combined with insulin pumps. These are not as accurate as of the finger-prick glucometers.
Who Should Check Their Blood Sugar?
You’ll need to test your blood sugar levels if you’re:
- Diagnosed pre-diabetic or diabetic
- Taking insulin
- Having high or low blood sugar levels
- Have ketones from high blood sugar levels
When To Test Blood Sugar?
The duration and time when you should check your glucose levels depend on the type of diabetes and the treatment regimen you follow.
If you’re suffering from type 1 diabetes monitor your blood sugar before:
- and after eating a meal
- going to bed
- performing critical tasks like driving
People with type 2 diabetes are advised to check their glucose several times a day.
High Blood Sugar
If your diabetes is well-controlled but you feel increasing thirst and urge to urinate you need to check your blood sugar levels. Exercise and dietary changes will help you manage the disease well.
Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar levels may show symptoms like shakiness, hungry and nauseous, dizziness, seizures, or unconsciousness. Sometimes low blood sugar may predispose without any symptoms. In such cases, it becomes necessary to check your levels more often.
Your sugar levels might shoot up during pregnancy called gestational diabetes. Your doctor may recommend testing blood sugar regularly to maintain healthy glucose levels. Gestational diabetes generally goes away after childbirth.
How To Prepare For Blood Sugar Test?
Blood sugar tests are more often fasting tests (they provide more accurate results) or random tests. The fasting blood sugar test preparation includes a fasting period of about 8 hours before the test. You shouldn’t eat or drink anything before the test. It’s best to schedule a fasting sugar test first in the morning so you don’t require fasting in the daytime. No fasting is required for a random blood sugar test.
You also need to inform your doctor about the medication you’re taking as they might affect your sugar levels. Factors like stress, surgery, trauma, stroke or heart attack may also cause a temporary rise in the blood sugar levels.
How To Test Your Blood Sugar At Home?
Glucometers are electronic devices that measure the amount of sugar in a drop of blood, usually from your fingertips. Follow the below steps to test your blood sugar levels at home.
- Wash and dry your hands well and pat dry.
- Insert a blood sugar test strip into your glucose meter.
- Prick your fingertip (from the side) with the lancet provided with your sugar test kit.
- Gently squeeze a drop of blood from your pierced fingertip.
- Transfer the blood sample to the test strip.
- The glucometer will display your blood sugar level on a screen in a few seconds.
Blood Sugar Test Machine – Glucometers
Some of the best blood sugar testing meters you can use at home are listed below:
- Accu-Chek Active Glucose Monitor
- Dr. Morepen BG-03 Gluco One Glucometer
- Contour Next EZ
- Care Touch Blood Glucose Monitoring System
- OneTouch Select Simple
Check out our article Best Sugar Testing Machine for more information and review of these glucometers.
Recording Your Results
Your glucometer readings can be downloaded on your computer or you may keep a manual record of all your blood sugar test results. Record the date, time, readings, medication, diet and exercise information in your log. Talk to your doctor about when to visit or what to do if the test results don’t fall within the recommended target goals.
Blood Sugar Test Results Chart
The result chart below shows the normal, prediabetic and diabetic range of blood sugar in an adult (except for pregnant women). There are many factors that may affect the readings, so talk to your doctor once you have the test results with you.
|under 100 mg/dL||between 110–125 mg/dL||greater than or equal to 126 mg/dL|
|under 5.7 per cent||5.7-6.4 per cent||greater than or equal to 6.5 per cent|
Your doctor will be able to help draft an appropriate treatment plan if your results suggest prediabetes or diabetes.
Which glucometer do you use to test blood sugar at home? Do comment below.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If you have high blood sugar levels you may experience excessive thirst, frequent need to urinate, headaches, fatigue, nausea, and blurred vision.
No, diabetes has no cure to date. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are irreversible. The patient might need insulin or other antidiabetic drugs to keep the blood sugar levels in control.
Yes, FDA has approved a continuous blood glucose monitor which doesn’t require finger prick to perform the test. In this device, a small sensor is attached to the upper arm and a reads is waved over it to determine your current sugar levels and changes over the past 8 hours.
The World Health Organization recommends the ring finger or middle finger for testing blood sugar at home. Avoid using your pinky as the skin around is thin and pricking might be painful.
You can test the presence of sugar in your blood using Benedict’s solution. In your blood sample add 10 drops of this solution and carefully heat the test tube in a hot water bath at about 40-50oC for five minutes. The solution will turn brick-red, yellow, or green depending on the concentration of sugar present.
The maximum amount of food that we eat gets digested and converts into blood glucose in 1-2 hours. To detect the peak level of blood sugar its best to check 1-2 hours after your meals. The American Diabetes Association recommends a target of below 180 mg/dl two hours after a meal.
People suffering from type 2 diabetes should test blood sugar at least once a day. Some diabetics may require testing more frequently in a day.