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Guide to Diabetes

Blood Glucose Monitoring

finger prick

Home blood glucose monitoring


Some people might test their blood to measure the glucose level on a regular basis in order to help them control their diabetes. In people without diabetes the blood glucose levels range from 4 - 7 mmol/l before meals and so this is usually the glucose level that people with diabetes aim to achieve. However, this is not always the case so you may wish to discuss your own target levels with the health care professional involved in your care.


Why do I need to monitor blood glucose?

Testing blood glucose allows you to learn so much about your diabetes and through doing your blood glucose levels you should develop a much better understanding of what effects your diabetes and how to make insulin work for you to achieve desired targets.
Here are some examples of how testing your blood Glucose can benefit you!

You can observe:

  • The effect of meals and foods on your blood sugars
  • The effects of eating more/less on blood sugars
  • What effect changing the times of meals has on blood sugars
  • What effect change of routine has for example holidays, physical activities, changes in shift patterns of work etc.
  • Hypoglycaemia- how low your blood sugars go and when you are most likely to go low
  • How much insulin you require
  • The effect of illness
  • The effect of stress and anxiety


When should you test your blood glucose?

The team will also discuss with you how often and when to carry out a test. It is usually recommended that you test your blood sugar at different times in the day. This helps build up a picture of how your blood glucose levels change during the course of 24 hours. It is better to carry out the tests before mealtimes because the blood glucose levels will change depending on what you eat.

As a guide:

  • Before each main meal and bedtime.
  • 2 hours after a meal to how effectively the insulin is dealing with your food.
  • Before and after exercise.
  • If you think you may be going Hypo
  • More frequently ( 2-4 hourly ) if you are ill
  • More frequently ( 2-4hourly) if you are pregnant
  • Occasionally, test between 3- 4am to ensure you are not having hypos in the night.
  • Before driving

Your diabetes team will advise you on how often and when to test.


What you will need

In order to test your own blood glucose levels you will need to have the appropriate equipment this will include:

  • Blood testing strips
  • Blood glucose meter
  • Finger pricking device
  • Lancets
  • Blood glucose monitoring diary
  • Sharps box or safety clip device for safe disposal of sharps ( contacting your local sharps collection service.Read the new revised sharps disposal policy that affects you



In order to carry out blood glucose testing you will need blood glucose meters, finger pricking devices and lancets. (Most of these are available on prescription)


Blood glucose meters

BGM meters

There are a wide variety of meters on the market. Discuss options with your diabetes team or retail pharmacist. Mostly these read the test strips digitally.

Most are compact, reliable and shock proof. Generally speaking a finger-pricking device will be included in the pack when you buy the meter.

Blood glucose meters are NOT available on prescriptions, and in most cases people buy their meters. In some cases diabetes team may be able to supply meters. All of the other equipment is available on prescription.

Find out more about devices from the websites below

Blood Glucose Monitoring Diabetes UK

It is also advisable to carry your blood testing equipment with you as you may wish to perform a test in order to plan/ prevent or detect a problem such as a “hypo”.


A blood glucose measurement can be carried out easily by taking a small drop of blood from the finger, with the use of a virtually pain free finger pricking device. Blood glucose meters vary and either your diabetes team or pharmacist will be able to discuss the features and benefits of meters with you to help you choose which is best for you. Every meter will have detailed instructions on how to perform a blood test but here are some general guidelines.

  1. Wash hands in warm water and dry thoroughly (this is very important as dirty hands will contaminate your blood sample and give an inaccurate result).
  2. Prick the side of your finger away from your thumb with a virtually pain free finger pricker. Milk the blood to the end of your fingers to obtain an adequate amount of blood.
  3. Apply the blood to the testing strip. The meter will automatically read the result and display it for you. If you are using a home blood glucose diary record your result in the appropriate place for date and time.
  4. Once you have measured your blood glucose it is important to record the result in a diary.
  5. The normal blood glucose levels range between 4-7mmol/l Although you should discuss your own target levels with your diabetes team


How will this help me?

This will help you and your diabetes care team to review your blood glucose control on a regular basis and make appropriate treatment changes.

By building up a picture of your blood sugar profiles you will be able to identify what makes your blood sugar levels change. This can help inform you as to how to improve levels, by adjusting mediation and or lifestyle/diet.


More blood tests

Your diabetes team will be supporting you to manage your diabetes, and a regular blood test known as HbA1c will determine what your average blood glucose are over a three month period. Recommendations may vary dependent on a number of factors, but generally speaking your HBA1c result should be around 48mmol/mol- 59mmol/mol - 6.5-7.5%.