How To Use a Glucometer

Diabetic girl using blood glucose meter
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At-home blood sugar monitoring devices called glucometers provide you with instant feedback and let you know immediately what your blood sugar is. This can give you valuable information about whether your blood sugar is too low, too high or in a good range for you.

Keeping a record of your results gives your doctor an accurate picture of how your treatment is working. It's small and easy to take with you.

You can test virtually anywhere, anytime. Here's how to use a glucometer.

What You Need to Use a Glucometer

  • Alcohol prep pad
  • Lancet
  • Test strip
  • Glucometer
  • A notebook to record results
  • Time Required: 10 to 15 minutes

Here's How to Use a Glucometer

  1. First, set out your glucometer, a test strip, a lancet and an alcohol prep pad.
  2. Wash your hands to prevent infection.
  3. Decide where you are going to obtain the blood from, the standard choice is from a finger. Some of the newer monitors let you use your forearm or another less sensitive place. Before you use an alternate site, discuss this with your doctor and check the instructions for your glucometer.
  4. Sometimes it helps to warm your hands first to make the blood flow easier. You can rub your hands together briskly or run them under warm water.
  5. Turn on the glucometer and place a test strip in the machine when the machine is ready. Watch the indicator for placing the blood on the strip.
  1. Make sure your hand is dry and wipe the area you've selected with an alcohol prep pad and wait until the alcohol evaporates.
  2. Pierce your finger tip on the soft, fleshy pad and obtain a drop of blood. The type of drop of blood is determined by the type of strip you are using (some use a "hanging drop" of blood versus a small drop for strips that draw blood in with a capillary action).
  1. Place the drop of blood on or at the side of the strip.
  2. The glucometer will take a few moments to calculate the blood sugar reading. Follow your doctor's orders for whatever blood sugar reading you get.
  3. You may use the alcohol prep pad to blot the site where you drew the blood if it is still bleeding.
  4. Write down your results. Keeping a record makes it easier for you and your doctor to establish a good treatment plan. Some glucometers can store your results in a memory, for easier record keeping.

Tips for Using a Glucometer

  1. Make sure you keep batteries in stock that fit your glucometer.
  2. Lancets come in different gauges. The higher the number, the finer the lancet. A 21 gauge lancet may not be as comfortable as a 30 gauge lancet.
  3. Dispose of your lancets in a puncture-proof container, preferably a red sharps container that is made for that purpose. Often you can get one from your doctor or pharmacy. If none is available, use a laundry detergent bottle with a screw-on cap, to prevent needle-stick accidents. Many hospitals and pharmacies have a sharps drop off program where you can bring your container when it is full.
  1. Keep your glucometer and test strips in a clean, dry place.
  2. Discuss with your doctor how often and at what times of the day you should be testing and what to do if your results are low or high.

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