Diabetes blood glucose testing – type 1 diabetes

If you have diabetes, you can test your blood glucose levels at home using a blood glucose meter.

Why is it important to test your blood glucose levels?

Testing your blood glucose (sugar) levels at home is important. It provides you with useful information to understand how your insulin dose, diet and exercise affect your blood glucose levels. It also helps you understand how other factors, such as illness, affect your blood glucose levels.

What equipment do you need for testing blood glucose levels?

You will need:

  • a blood glucose test meter
  • lancets (prickers)
  • a lancing device (a device, like a pen, to hold the pricker)
  • blood glucose diagnostic test strip
  • a notebook or diary in which to record your blood glucose levels).

In New Zealand, all people with type 1 diabetes qualify for a subsidised blood glucose meter.

Learn how to use your blood glucose meter

If you are unsure how to use your blood glucose meter, there are various healthcare providers who can teach you, such as:

  • a diabetes nurse educator or diabetes nurse specialist
  • your local pharmacist
  • the practice nurse at your GP surgery.

When should I test my blood glucose levels?

For type 1 diabetes, you need to monitor your blood glucose regularly. 

  • Test before meals, 2 hours after meals and at bedtime.
  • Test at least 2 days a week unless you make dose-by-dose decisions based on your measured glucose level.
  • Test every day if you need to intensively monitor your type 1 diabetes.

You should change to daily testing if you:

  • are starting new treatment
  • have unstable blood glucose
  • have symptoms of high or low blood glucose
  • are changing treatment
  • are sick and feel unwell
  • have major changes to your daily routine
  • are employed as a driver.

Clean your hands before testing

Cleaning your hands well before testing is essential, as dirt, contaminants or chemicals on your fingers can affect the reading.

The best method to clean your hands is to wash with soap, ensuring you rinse well with water to remove all soap residue, and wipe them dry.

How do I check my blood glucose?

  • Wash and dry your hands before testing.
  • Insert a test strip into your meter.
  • Use the lancet device on the side of your fingertip to get a drop of blood.
  • To get a better sized drop of blood, try warming your hands before testing.
  • Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood and wait for the result.
The following video shows you how to do a blood glucose test.

(Click the video image below to be directed to the Starship website and click play on the chosen video.)


How do I keep track of my blood glucose results?

Every time you measure your blood glucose, you need to record your blood glucose levels. You can record this in a diary or log book. It is a good idea to also record unusual events in your logbook, eg, having a hypo, eating sweet food.

(Click the video image below to be directed to the Starship website and click play on the chosen video.)

The CareSens blood glucose meters may record your blood glucose levels automatically. You can record this using computer software, as seen in the video below. 

(Click the video image below to be directed to the Starship website and click play on the chosen video.)


Learn more

Blood glucose testing for type 1 diabetes Diabetes NZ 

References

  1. Glycaemic targets in the treatment of diabetes Ministry of Health, NZ & New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes, 2020
  2. Understanding the role of insulin in the management of type 1 diabetes BPAC, NZ, 2019

Reviewed by

Dr Arna Letica has worked as a GP for over 13 years, with particular interests in women's and children's health. She is currently focusing on non-clinical roles, including working as a medical assessor.
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team. Reviewed By: Dr Arna Letica, FRNZCGP, Auckland Last reviewed: 19 Mar 2021