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How Does a Blood Glucose Monitor Work?

Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, MD · General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 10, 2021

How Does a Blood Glucose Monitor Work?

To manage their condition, people with diabetes need to monitor their glucose levels regularly. For this, they often use a glucometer. But, how does a blood glucose monitor work and are there other monitoring kits available in the Philippines? Find out here.

Who Needs to Use a Blood Glucose Monitor?

how does a blood glucose monitor work

To better understand the science behind how a blood glucose monitor works, it’s important to first discuss who needs to use it.

Generally, if you have diabetes, your doctor will tell you to have a kit at home. But people who don’t have diabetes sometimes have to use a glucometer, too.

For instance, pregnant women are advised to check their blood sugar levels just in case they develop gestational diabetes.

You may also need to use a blood glucose monitor if you have:

  • Orders to take insulin
  • A hard time keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range
  • Low blood glucose levels, with or without the warning signs
  • Ketones from increased blood sugar

Now, if you’re wondering when or how frequently you’ll have to check your blood glucose, you need to talk to your doctor about it.

Mostly, it will depend on your treatment plan and the type of diabetes that you have.

How Does a Blood Glucose Monitor Work?

how does a blood glucose monitor work

When you have diabetes or any condition that needs regular blood glucose monitoring, a home glucometer kit is essential. There are many types available in the market, but in general, a kit includes:

  • A lancet device
  • Test strips
  • The glucometer

But how does a blood glucose monitor kit work? How can it detect the amount of sugar in the blood? The following concepts will help answer these questions:

  • First, the test strips where you place a small drop of your blood contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase.
  • Glucose oxidase has the ability to react to the glucose in the blood.
  • Now, inside the glucometer, there’s an electrode that can measure how strong an electrical current is.
  • What happens is this: When you put a drop of your blood on the inserted test strip, the reaction between the glucose and the enzyme glucose oxidase generates an electrical signal.
  • The glucometer then measures the strength of that signal and translates it into numerical data.
  • Basically, the more glucose there is, the stronger the reaction, and of course, the higher the number.

Why is a Blood Glucose Monitor Helpful for Diabetic Patients?

A blood glucose monitoring kit is an important tool for diabetic care.

It helps you detect when you’re blood sugar level is no longer within your target goal.

Moreover, it gives you the opportunity to act before the effects of hyperglycemia set in.

The other benefits of using a glucometer are:

  • It checks if your medications are working well for your blood glucose levels.
  • You’ll be able to track and record your progress with your current treatment regimen.
  • It assesses if your diet and exercise are effective in managing your diabetes.
  • It helps determine if other factors like stress and illnesses influence your sugar levels.

How to Use a Blood Glucose Monitoring Kit

After answering the question of how does a blood glucose monitor work, let’s review how to properly use it.

Most glucometers follow these instructions:

  • When it’s time to check your blood glucose, thoroughly wash your hands.
  • Insert a test strip into the glucometer device.
  • Using the lancet pen, prick the side of your finger to draw blood.
  • Be sure that you’re drawing enough blood – if it’s too little or too much, the glucometer might not be able to read it.
  • Touch the edge of the strip with your pricked finger to transfer the blood to the designated area on the test strip.
  • Wait for the results; the numbers will be displayed on the glucometer’s monitor.

Important reminder: Please understand that due to the wide variety of kits in the market, the instructions provided above may change a little.

Don’t forget to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s note to use the device correctly.

If you’re having difficulty with using the glucometer, ask for your doctor’s help. Bring the glucometer to their office and have them teach you.

Before leaving, try to do a test run so your doctor can assess if you’re doing it properly.

Reading the Results

Now that you have a fairly good idea of how to use a glucometer at home, it’s time to talk about results.

Some kits come with their own normal values. However, it’s not a good idea to be reliant on those values. This is because the target ranges for blood glucose levels have to be “personalized”.

Your doctor will talk to you about it, but in general, your target ranges will depend on the following factors:

  • Your age
  • How long you’ve had diabetes
  • Other conditions you may have, especially cardiovascular diseases
  • Complications of diabetes
  • Hypoglycemia unawareness

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What Kits Are Available in the Philippines?

The portable glucometer is perhaps the most accessible testing kit in the Philippines. It’s available in many pharmacies and even online stores.

Only, you’ll have to be careful when choosing a brand. Picking a faulty or low-quality device could greatly affect the results of your test and your diabetes care plan.

If you don’t want to regularly prick your finger or if you’re too busy to stop and monitor your sugar levels using the portable glucometer, you may find the CGM helpful.

  • CGM or Continuous Glucose Monitor comes with a sensor and a compact device that scans the sensor.
  • Unlike the regular glucometer that needs frequent pricking, you only need to apply the sensor once and change every week or two.
  • The CGM device will monitor your blood glucose every few minutes.
  • Some devices can be connected to your smartphone and would even issue an alarm when your sugar level is higher than the target you set.

CGM could be a little more expensive than a regular glucometer, but many people find it more convenient.

Whatever blood glucose monitoring device you decide on, don’t forget to talk to your doctor about it.

Learn more about Type 2 Diabetes here. 


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

Medically reviewed by

Elfred Landas, MD

General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 10, 2021

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