How do I check my blood glucose levels?

In the UK most people check their blood glucose levels by pricking their fingers with what’s called a lancet, and then squeezing the blood into a glucose monitor.

There is no avoiding the fact that pricking your finger can be painful. It might be encouraging to know that pricking your fingers becomes less painful over time, but why not try these tricks which might help it hurt less:

  • It’s important to make sure your finger is clean before testing. Washing your hands is the most common way of doing this, but some people like to use alcohol wipes
  • Use a fresh lancet every time — they hurt more when they’re blunt
  • If you find your lancets are uncomfortable, ask your diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) if you can have some samples of other types to try. Some are thicker than others, so a shorter and finer one may help
  • You could also ask about different blood glucose monitors — some need less blood than others
  • Most lancets have adjustable settings – try setting your lancet to a shorter depth
  • Alternate the finger you use to test
  • Most people squeeze their finger for blood once its been pricked, but be careful not to squeeze too hard
  • Target the sides of your fingers instead of the soft centre area where there are more nerve endings

Be realistic about your blood glucose levels

We know that living with type 1 diabetes can be frustrating for you. Over the course of a couple of days you could eat the same amount of food, take the same amount of insulin and do the same amount of exercise, but your blood glucose levels might still be completely different.

While food and exercise are important factors in how much insulin your body needs, there are other things that play an important role — not all of these are completely understood or within your control. For example, your insulin might not absorb as well some days, so it’ll be less effective. Some women also report that their blood glucose levels are higher several days before their period, and then drop once their period commences. This is caused by high pre-menstrual oestrogen levels which make the body resistant to insulin. Factors such as temperature and stress can also affect your levels, and these can be difficult to control.

That’s why it’s important to keep testing your blood glucose levels several times each day, to manage your type 1 diabetes as best as possible.