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Monitoring diabetes at home

A glucose meter can help you keep an eye on your blood sugar levels.

If you have diabetes, your doctor probably recommended some mix of diet, exercise and medicines to help keep your glucose levels under control.

One of the best ways to find out how well your treatment plan is working is to monitor your blood glucose at home.

Simple and quick

To test your glucose, you prick your skin with a lancet—a very small blade or needle—to produce a drop of blood.

You place the blood on a strip that you insert into a glucose meter, which is usually not much bigger than a deck of cards. In a few moments, the meter provides a reading of your glucose level.

Another option for testing your glucose level is continuous glucose monitoring. A tiny sensor is inserted under your skin and automatically checks what is called interstitial glucose, which is the glucose between cells. The information is transmitted to a monitor. The monitor might be part of an insulin pump or a separate device in your pocket or purse. 

A picture of health

The American Diabetes Association recommends keeping track of your glucose readings over time. This can help you and your doctor see how well your treatment plan is working. If your glucose levels are often very low or very high, your doctor may adjust your medicines, diet or exercise recommendations to help keep your glucose levels as close to normal as possible. Very high or low glucose levels can damage organs and tissues and cause diabetes complications. In extreme cases, blood glucose levels can be life-threatening.

Reviewed 6/6/2022

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