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Seven tips for successful blood glucose monitoring

by Dr. Kate Marsh on February 10, 2021

Blood glucose monitoring is an important tool which can help you in managing your diabetes.  Here are seven tips to ensure the accuracy of your blood glucose readings and to help you make the most of your monitoring results.

diabetes lancets blood glucose testing levels


1. Know why you are monitoring

Monitoring your glucose levels (BGLs) at home can help you to better understand how different factors such as food, exercise, stress and illness affect your levels.  It also helps you to know whether you are keeping glucose levels in your target range, or if they are above or below this range.  It can also help you to know when it’s time to see your doctor or diabetes team to review and adjust your diabetes medication.

2. Know when to monitor

When and how often you check your BGLs will depend on the type of diabetes you have and how it’s being managed.  For example, if you have type 1 diabetes and use an insulin pump, the recommended timing and frequency of monitoring will be different to someone with type 2 diabetes taking oral medications. 

Your doctor or diabetes educator will discuss with you the best times to check.  However, in general it is recommended that people with insulin treated diabetes check before each meal, before bed and occasionally overnight (2-3am), particularly if you've experienced overnight hypos.  If you have type 2 diabetes and don’t use insulin, the best times to check are on waking (fasting) and two hours after any meal (from the start of the meal). 

If you have type 2 diabetes and are not taking a medication that causes hypos then you may not need to monitor at all.  It’s only useful to monitor if it’s helping you in the day-to-day management of your diabetes.  A short period of structured monitoring (for example, before and after meals for a few days) is usually more helpful than only checking fasting readings every day.

3. Know when to do extra checks

There are some times when it’s a good idea to check your glucose levels more regularly.  This includes when you:

  • Are unwell or under a lot of stress
  • Are experiencing symptoms of high or low BGLs
  • Are making changes to your diabetes management plan (e.g. altering your diet, activity levels or medication)
  • Have a change in routine (e.g. when you are traveling or on holidays)
  • Are driving – if you take insulin or a medication that can cause hypos you should check before you drive and every few hours during long distance driving – it’s important to ensure your levels are above 5mmol/L to be safe to drive

4. Know your individual target range

Recommended target ranges for people with diabetes differ depending on a number of factors including your age, how long you’ve had diabetes, the type of diabetes medication you take and any other medical problems you might have or other medications you take.

It’s important to speak with your doctor about your own personal targets, however Diabetes Australia recommends the following general targets:

  • If you have type 1 diabetes: 4-8mmol/L before meals and under 10mmol/L two hours after starting meals
  • If you have type 2 diabetes: 6–8mmol/L before meals and 6-10mmol/L two hours after starting meals
  • If you’re not taking medication that can cause hypos, you may be able to aim for lower levels, similar to a person without diabetes.

An occasional low or high reading is usually nothing to be concerned about, particularly if there is an explanation (for example, you went out to dinner or did more exercise than usual). But readings that are regularly outside your target range are a sign that your diabetes management plan may be in need of review.

5. Wash and dry your hands well before monitoring

Anything on your fingers, particularly if you have been handling food such as fruit, can affect your readings, giving you a false high.  If you need to check your levels when out and about, consider buying some alcohol-free wipes such as the Glucology® Alcohol Free Finger Cleaning Wipes.

6. Check the expiry date on your strips

Always check that the strips you are using are within their expiry date, particularly if you don’t use them regularly.  If you have a meter that needs coding, (most new meters now don’t) always check that the machine is calibrated for the vial/box of strips you are currently using.  For strips that come in a vial, it’s also important to make sure you put the lid back on as soon as you take out a new strip as moisture can affect the accuracy.

7. Lancet right

Minimise the pain of monitoring by changing your lancets regularly (they are designed for single use and will become increasingly blunt with each use) and choosing the right depth setting on your lancet device – the shallowest setting that gives you enough blood.  Use a different finger each time and both sides of the fingertip, rather than the top of your finger. And remember that used test strips can be placed in the rubbish bin but lancets should be disposed of in a sharps container. If you need to dispose of lancets on the run, consider a pocket-size sharps container such as the Glucology® Pen Needle Pocket Container.



Glucology was born in Sydney Australia. Our mission is to help improve the lives of people living with diabetes by providing the best possible support products and information. 
Remember to always seek advice from your medical practitioner before changing anything.