How to Check Your Blood Sugar Using a Blood Glucose Meter

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In this video, we’ll show you how to check your blood sugar using a blood glucose meter. Blood sugar is also called blood glucose.

‌ You need to set up your meter before using it for the first time. You do this by accepting the blood glucose target range of 70-180 mg/dL and setting the time and date. Your meter will not work until you set it up.

For written instructions for checking your blood sugar using a blood glucose meter, read How to Check Your Blood Sugar Using a Blood Glucose Meter.

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In this video, we’ll show you how to check your blood sugar. Blood sugar is also called blood glucose.

Your healthcare provider will tell you how often to check your blood sugar. They’ll also tell you what your blood sugar level should be based on your overall health and your current treatment plan. This is called your blood glucose target range.

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for recording your blood sugar levels and medication doses. They might give you a blood sugar log, or you can use a notebook. They’ll use this information to see how your treatment plan is working and decide if it needs to be changed.

Before you start, wash your hands with soap and water and dry them very well. Touching a blood glucose test strip with wet or damp hands can damage it or make your result less accurate.

Next, set up your supplies on a clean surface. It’s helpful to arrange them in the order you’ll use them. You’ll need:

Your lancing device and lancets. You’ll use these to prick your finger to get a small drop of blood. Use a new lancet each time you check your blood sugar. 

We’ll be using a Microlet Next lancing device and lancets. These lancets come in lots of colors, but they’re all the same. If you’re using a different type of lancing device, follow the instructions that came with it.

You’ll also need your blood glucose meter and test strips. You’ll use these to test the drop of blood. Humidity from the air can damage the strips, so only take one out of the container when you’re ready to check your blood sugar, and always close the container tightly. Set the test strip on top of the meter until you’re ready to put it in the meter. 

We’ll be using a Contour Next One meter and test strips. If you’re using a different type, follow the instructions that came with it.

If you don’t have access to a sink to wash your hands, you’ll need an alcohol pad and a clean tissue. You’ll use these to clean and dry your finger before pricking it.

Finally, you’ll need a trash can and home sharps container, such as a hard plastic laundry detergent bottle with a screw-top lid.

Now that you have your supplies, you can get started with testing. First, get your lancing device ready.

The lancing device’s end cap is locked in place when the drop is lined up with the release button. Twist the white band to the right to unlock the endcap, then pull it straight off.

Pick up the new lancet. Holding it by the round tab, firmly insert it into the center of the lancing device. Push it all the way down until it can’t go any further. Carefully twist the round tab 3 times, being careful not to bend it. Pull it off and set it aside to use later. You should see a small needle inside the lancing device.

Put the end cap back on the lancing device in the unlocked position and twist the white band back to the locked position.

Set the lancet puncture depth by turning the black dial with numbers at the top of the end cap. This controls how deep the lancet will go into your skin. It’s best to start with level 1 or 2 and increase the depth as needed. The dial can twist easily, so make sure it’s set to the right level every time you use the lancing device.

Next, pick up your meter and test strip. You’ll notice that one end of the test strip is square and the other end is slightly rounded. You’ll also see that one side is printed and the other side is plain. 

Holding the test strip with the printed side up, put the square end into the meter. The meter will beep and turn on. A small test strip with a blood drop will flash on the meter display telling you to apply a drop of blood. If it doesn’t turn on, make sure you’ve pushed the strip all the way in and that it’s inserted the right way.

Once the meter turns on, you have 3 minutes to apply a drop of blood to the test strip. If you don’t apply a drop in time, the meter will beep and turn off. If this happens, just pull the test strip out and put it back in. Never apply blood to the strip when the meter is off or before you put it into the meter. This will ruin the test strip and you’ll have to use a new one.

Once your lancing device and blood glucose meter are ready, decide which finger you’ll prick. You’ll use the side of your finger, not the middle or tip where it’s more sensitive. Make sure to change fingers each time and use both sides of your fingers to help prevent sore spots.

If you weren’t able to wash your hands with soap and water, clean the area you’re going to prick with the alcohol pad and dry it with the clean tissue or gauze pad. Make sure the alcohol dries all the way. If any gets in the blood sample, your test result might be higher than your blood sugar really is.

After you’ve cleaned and dried your finger, hold the lancing device firmly against the side of your finger and press the release button. Move the lancing device away from your finger right away and look for a drop of blood. You may need to gently massage or squeeze your finger, but don’t do this too hard, or your results may not be accurate.

If you don’t get a big enough drop of blood, you’ll need to prick your finger again. Reset the lancing device, turn the dial to increase the puncture depth by one level, then set it firmly against your finger and push the release button again. It’s OK to use the same needle.

When you get a big enough blood drop, touch the very end of the test strip to the drop. The blood will be drawn into the test strip. It won’t work if the blood is placed anywhere else on the strip.

If you don’t apply enough blood to the test strip on the first try, the meter will beep twice, and a blood drop will flash on the display. You can apply more blood to the test strip within 60 seconds. If you don’t apply enough blood within 60 seconds, the meter will show an error code. If this happens, pull out the test strip and start again with a new one.

When enough blood has been applied to the strip, the meter will beep and count down from 5, then the result will appear on the meter display. You’ll also see a color near the test strip. It will be green if your blood sugar level is in your target range, yellow if it’s too high, or red if it’s too low.

Once you know your blood sugar level, record it in your log before taking out the test strip. Make sure your meter is right side up when you read it. The result will stay on the meter’s screen until you remove the test strip or for 3 minutes.

To remove the test strip from the meter, pull it firmly out of the meter and throw it away in the trash.

To remove the lancet from the lancing device, twist the white band to unlock the endcap and pull it straight off. Put the round plastic tab you removed from the top of the lancet earlier on a flat surface. Stick the end of the lancet firmly into the plastic tab. This covers the needle so you won’t accidentally poke yourself.

Holding the lancing device over your sharps container, slide the gray lancet ejector forward until the lancet falls into the sharps container. Don’t pull the lancet out with your fingers. The plastic tab can easily come off and you can poke yourself with the needle. Once the lancet falls into the sharps container, slide the lancet ejector back into place, put the end cap back on, and lock it.  If you got more blood than you needed, turn the dial to decrease the puncture depth by 1 level so the lancet won’t prick as hard next time.

Make sure to bring your blood sugar log to all your appointments. This will help your healthcare provider make decisions about your care.

If you have questions about how to use your blood glucose meter, refer to the user's guide that came with it. If you’re using a Contour Next One blood glucose meter, you can also call their customer service. The phone number and operating hours are listed on the back of the user guide.

If you have questions about checking your blood sugar, talk with your healthcare provider. You can also find more resources in our virtual patient education library at www.mskcc.org/pe.

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