How to Test Your Blood Glucose

Your doctor or diabetes educator will help you choose the glucose meter that is best for you, teach you how to use it and how to record the results. Several different meters and supplies are available to help you check your blood glucose levels.

Important features of a blood glucose meter to consider include:

  • Fast results
  • Small blood sample size
  • Size of meter
  • Easy-to-read numbers on display
  • Ability to check blood sugar in other places besides finger
  • Data management (such as tracking date and time of blood sugar results)
  • Cost of supplies and insurance coverage
  • How easy is it to use the meter and strips

Steps to Follow

Checking your blood sugar is a simple process using a lancing device, lancet, test strip and a meter. Your diabetes educator will teach you how to do this with the blood glucose meter you have chosen. The following are general instructions for using a blood glucose meter.

  1. Wash your hands or clean your finger or other site with alcohol. If you are using alcohol, let it dry before you prick your finger.

  2. Prick the site with a lancing device.

  3. Put a little drop of blood on a test strip.

  4. Follow the instructions for inserting the test strip and using the blood glucose meter.

  5. In seconds, the blood glucose meter reads your blood sugar level.

Supplies You Will Use

  • Blood glucose meter — reads blood sugar.

  • Test strip — collects blood sample.

  • Lancet or small needle — fits into lancing device, pricks finger, and provides small drop of blood for glucose strip.

  • Lancing device — pricks finger when button is pressed. Most devices have dials to select how deep the needle goes into the skin. Start with middle depth. If you get more blood than needed, dial the number down so the lancet does not go as deep. If you get less blood, dial the number up so lancet goes deeper.

  • Alcohol wipes or soap and water — to clean fingers or other testing site.

  • Control solution — checks test strip for accuracy. The amount of sugar in the control solution is already known. When placed on a test strip, value should match control solution value on bottle, package of strips or package insert with your strips.

  • Check strip — comes with some models to make sure your meter is working. It checks the meter only, not the strips.

  • User manual — provides information about your meter. After reading it, place the manual in a safe place so that you can find it when you have a question about your meter.

  • Warranty card or papers — complete, make file copy and send in immediately.

Troubleshooting Tips

Can’t get blood out of your finger?

  • Place hands under warm water and rub together

  • Hang hand down below waist

  • Grasp finger near area to be pricked and squeeze gently for three seconds

  • Place finger on table or firm surface to avoid moving while pricking

  • If lancing device has dial-a-depth, increase setting by 1 level

  • Use new lancet every time you check blood sugar

Hurts too much?

  • If lancing device has dial-a-depth, decrease setting by 1 level

  • Use new lancet every time you check blood sugar

  • Try a thinner lancet or a different lancing device

  • Use sides of fingertips instead of fingertip pad

  • Try alternative test sites such as arm or thigh

  • Ask diabetes educator for suggestions

Error message?

  • Review user manual – error codes and problems are identified in manual

  • Make sure right amount of blood is on strip

  • Make sure blood is on correct part of strip

  • Call toll-free manufacturer’s number (listed on back of meter and in user manual)

  • Ask diabetes educator for suggestions


The BD Diabetes Learning Center describes the causes of diabetes, its symptoms, and diabetes complications such as retinopathy and neuropathy. This site contains detailed information about blood glucose monitoring, insulin injection and safe sharps disposal. Interactive quizzes, educational literature downloads and animated demonstrations help to teach diabetes care skills.

Important Note: The content of this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Do not disregard your doctor's advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this website.

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