Blood Glucose Testing

Blood glucose testing is a way of monitoring blood glucose levels. It is a way of showing how the body responds to certain food, exercise, diabetes medication, and illness.

Blood glucose testing is very important for daily monitoring. It helps in the long-term prevention of the possible side effects of diabetes.

It is best to discuss with the doctor when something needs to be done about low or high blood glucose levels.

Blood Glucose Meters

There are a lot of different types of blood glucose meters and they all offer different features. Always check the meter is clean and the battery is not low.

When an appointment is made at a Diabetes Clinic they recommend that people take their meters with them. The diabetes educator can check the accuracy of the meter with control solutions.

Otherwise take them in to a Diabetes Australia outlet. Some Doctors' surgeries also perform control checks.

Storage of Blood Glucose Testing Equipment

  •     Keep lids tightly on containers
  •     Do NOT store in sunlight - some strips are light sensitive
  •     Store strips at room temperature (not above 30 degrees C and not in the fridge)

Strips sometimes give inaccurate readings if they have not been stored properly.

What to do when Opening a New Bottle of Strips

  •     Calibrate the machine
  •     Check the code is correct
  •     Check the expiry date of the strips
  •     Check the strips are correct for the machine

When to Test Blood Glucose Levels

This is different for each person and the doctor will decide when the tests should be carried out and how often.

Extra testing may be needed when there are symptoms of a hypo or of high blood glucose levels, or the person is unwell.

Blood Glucose Level

The doctor will determine the person's ideal range for their blood glucose level.

It depends on age, type of diabetes and how long the person has had diabetes, other health conditions and how the person manages their diabetes.

Everyone is different.

Causes of Fluctuating Blood Glucose Levels

There are a number of common causes as to why blood glucose levels can go lower or higher. The person may:

  •     Have emotional stress
  •     Have missed a meal or eaten too much food
  •     Have drunk too much alcohol
  •     Be over or under exercised
  •     Have taken too much or too little diabetes medication
  •     Be unwell

If the blood glucose levels seem to be higher or lower than expected the blood glucose test may need to be done again.

Check that the correct procedures have been followed with regards to:

  •     Blood glucose meters
  •     Storage of glucose testing equipment
  •     New bottles of strips
  •     How to do a blood glucose test properly

How to Perform a Blood Glucose Test

  •     Support - Identify what assistance the person requires with their blood glucose test
  •     Gloves - To ensure infection control is adhered to, it is recommended that the carer wears gloves
  •     Lancet - A disposable lancet is used once only and discarded into the 'sharps' container
  •     'Sharps' Container - Use the 'sharps' container to dispose of the lancet and, if needed, the insulin injection needle
  •     Once it is full the 'sharps' container can be closed firmly and disposed of in the rubbish bin

Preparing the Glucose Meter

  • Make sure all equipment is ready before beginning
  • For any more information refer to the manufacturer's instructions.

Blood Glucose Test

  •     Wash and dry hands as food residue can affect results
  •     (Do not use alcohol swabs to clean the finger as they make the skin go hard after a while. They are also expensive).
  •     Turn glucose meter on and insert strip
  •     Select a finger from either hand
  •     Prick the side of the finger with the lancet to get a small drop of blood
  •     Dispose of the lancet into the 'sharps' container
  •     Put the drop of blood on the strip
  •     Ensure the strips have been put into the glucometer correctly
  •     (This step depends on the glucometer being used. Some strips can't be removed from the glucometer. Some actually pipette up the blood, with the strip in the glucose meter.)
  •     Wait for the results
  •     Record the results

It is important to understand the meaning of the blood glucose result so the right action can be taken.

If the blood glucose level is NOT in the ideal range, record:

  •     Blood glucose level
  •     Time
  •     Symptoms
  •     Food and drink consumed
  •     Activity of the person before the test
  •     Action taken

Refer to the section on low and high blood glucose levels

Some glucose meters allow the results to be recorded electronically. However it is recommended that results be copied into a diary as a safeguard against breakdown of equipment and loss of results.

Response from Carers

  •     "You load it up and say, 'Give us a finger'. We make sure the hand is clean and then prick it. We give her a tissue and she tells us what the numbers are. We can say either that's a bit high or pretty good"
  •     "I would ask him to get his kit and he would bring it to me."
  •     "To help her know when it is time for next blood glucose level test I am trying an alarm watch that has a vibrator on it because she has a slight hearing problem"
  •     "I ensure she has a blood glucose level monitor that you can read back"


symbol with pencil



Write down:


Where the blood glucose meter kit is kept





What the ideal blood glucose level range for the person you support is