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How To Use a Glucometer: A Guide for First-Time Users

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Dec 09, 2021

How To Use a Glucometer: A Guide for First-Time Users

On your last check-up, the doctor advised you to have a glucometer at home. A glucometer, also called a glucose meter, is a compact device designed to approximate the concentration of glucose in your blood; it is a useful tool for people with diabetes. With it, you can monitor if your blood sugar levels are still within the normal range or they are already deviating from your target goals. If you’re new to glucometers, here are the basics of how to measure your blood sugar.

I Now Have a Glucometer, What’s Next?

The doctor gave you detailed instructions on what to do, but if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information, get started with the doctor’s orders first.

How to measure blood sugar can be simple once you know how. Note down your target blood sugar range and set reminders for when you are advised to monitor your glucose. They might have also told you about the steps to take for when your levels are not within the target range, so jot the instructions down, too. If some things about these aspects confuse you, don’t hesitate to contact your physician.

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Afterward, take the glucometer package and read through the directions. Most glucose meters work the same way, but there could be little differences in instructions. For instance, some brands ask you to press a button to turn the device on, while others automatically power up once you insert the test strip.

Once you’re comfortable with the device, you’ll be more confident when it’s time to measure your blood sugar levels.

What Do I Need Before Checking My Sugar?

Before the scheduled check, do the following:

  • Prepare the equipment, which includes the glucometer itself, test strips, lancets, and lancing device. If you don’t have a lancing device, the lancet will do.
  • Prepare some alcohol pads (or cotton pads and alcohol).
  • Don’t forget to prepare a sharps box. If you don’t have one, a non-transparent and puncture-proof container will suffice. Label it with “Used sharps. Do not recycle.”
  • Have sealed containers for the test strips and alcohol pads.
  • Prepare a notebook to record your blood glucose measurements. You’ll bring this record each time you visit the doctor.

How Do I Perform the Test?

Once you’ve prepared everything, you’re now ready to measure your blood sugar.

  • If available, load the lancing pen with the lancet.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Food particles and other substances could give you an inaccurate reading. However, don’t forget to dry your hands completely as water might dilute the blood.
  • Insert the test strip in the device. After taking one test strip, close the container tightly. Exposure to moisture might damage the strips.
  • Massage your finger to promote blood flow, and then prick the side of your fingertip using the lancing pen or lancet.
  • Squeeze the base of your finger to draw blood; afterward, place a small amount of blood on the strip.
  • Within a few seconds, the glucometer will show you the result on the screen.
  • You may use an alcohol pad if the area where you pricked is still bleeding.

Note: If pricking hurts and draws too much blood, check the “setting” on the lancing device. The numbers indicate how deep the lancet will pierce he skin. In most cases, setting it to 2 (or somewhere in the middle) works well.

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What Should I Do After the Test?

After you measure your blood sugar level, don’t forget to do the following:

  • Record the results, including the date and time of the day. It will also be helpful to jot down the foods you ate, symptoms you feel, or any notable activity you engaged in.
  • If the reading is not within the target range, follow the doctor’s instructions (should you take medications, call them, etc.)
  • Dispose of the lancets in the sharps box and the test strips and alcohol pads in their separate sealed containers. They are now hazardous waste and require proper handling.
  • Care for the glucometer and lancing device as per package instructions.

Final Reminders

Learning how to measure blood sugar using a glucometer is a crucial part of managing diabetes.

Stock on lancets and test strips, especially if you foresee that you’ll have no time to go out and buy them for a particular period. Furthermore, always check that your test strips are not expired and never use another container for them. Many test strips are sensitive to temperature, moisture, and even light.

If you have questions about the steps on how to measure your blood sugar levels, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Learn more about Diabetes here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Expertly reviewed by

Chris Icamen

Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Dec 09, 2021

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