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Home Blood Sugar Test: About This Test

What is it?

A home blood sugar test measures the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood, using a small device called a blood sugar meter. It's a quick way to test your blood sugar anywhere, at any time.

Why is this test done?

Testing your blood sugar helps you know if your levels are in your target range. It helps you know when to take action and may help you avoid blood sugar emergencies. Testing also helps you learn how things like exercise, stress, and what you eat can affect your blood sugar.

What happens before the test?

The supplies you will need for testing blood sugar include:

  • A blood glucose meter.
  • Testing strips. These are made to be used with a specific model of meter. Make sure the strips haven't expired.
  • Sugar control solutions. Some meters require a specific solution. Many new meters are made to operate without a control solution.
  • Short needles called lancets for pricking your skin.
  • A pen-sized holder for the lancet (lancet device). It positions the lancet and controls how deeply it goes into your skin.
  • Clean cotton balls. These are used to stop the bleeding from the testing site.

What happens during the test?

Checking your blood sugar involves pricking your finger, palm, or forearm with a lancet to collect a drop of blood. The blood drop is placed on a test strip, which you insert into the blood glucose meter. The instructions for testing are slightly different for each blood glucose meter model. Follow the instructions that came with your meter.

  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water. Dry them well with a clean towel. You may also use an alcohol wipe to clean your finger or other site. But make sure your hands are dry before the test.
  • Insert a clean lancet into the lancet device.
  • Remove a test strip from the test strip bottle. Replace the lid right away to keep moisture away from the other strips.
  • Follow the instructions that came with your meter to get it ready.
  • Use the lancet device to stick the side of your fingertip with the lancet. Do not stick the tip of your finger. Some blood sugar meters use lancet devices that take the blood sample from other sites, such as the palm of the hand or the forearm. But the finger is usually the most accurate place to test blood sugar.
  • Put a drop of blood on the correct spot on the test strip.
  • Apply pressure with a clean cotton ball to stop the bleeding.
  • Follow the directions that came with the meter to get the results.
  • Write down the results and the time that you tested your blood. Some meters will store the results for you.

How long does the test take?

The blood glucose meter will show the results of the test in a minute or less.

What are the possible results for the test?

Diabetes Canada recommends that you stay within the following blood glucose level ranges. But depending on your health, you and your doctor may set a different range for you.

For most adults (non-pregnant)

  • 4.0 to 7.0 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) before a meal
  • 5.0 to 10.0 mmol/L 2 hours after a meal

For adults who have diabetes and are pregnant

  • Less than 5.3 mmol/L before a meal
  • 7.8 mmol/L 1 hour after a meal, and 6.7 mmol/L 2 hours after a meal.

Where can you learn more?

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