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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Blood glucose (sugar) self-monitoring

Aroturukitanga kūhuka (huka) ā-toto

A person's hands using a blood glucose meterUse the finger‑prick test to check your blood glucose (sugar) level. This shows your blood glucose level at the time you test it. How often you need to test your blood glucose levels depends on what type of diabetes you have and the treatment you are using.

This page gives general advice to guide your testing. Your general practice team or diabetes nurse may advise a slightly different individual routine. If you aren't sure about anything, ask them for advice.

You may also find this video called Testing blood glucose helpful. It shows you how to use a finger prick-test to monitor your blood glucose.

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) can provide an alternative to finger-prick tests. CGM uses sensors that are inserted into the fatty layer under your skin and a transmitter that constantly sends data to a receiver, compatible insulin pump or smart device (phone or tablet). The monitoring can easily show patterns and trends in your glucose levels. But it's important to check your glucose levels by using finger-prick tests if your symptoms do not match the sensor readings, or if you have concerns. CGM allows families to set alarms for high and low glucose levels.

CGM is not currently funded by PHARMAC or the Diabetes Centre, so you have to pay for it yourself.

How often and when to check your blood glucose level

Type of diabetes

Normal treatment

When to test

How often to test

Type 2

Diet and exercise, or

Diet, exercise and metformin

If your diabetes and lifestyle are stable, you might not need to test.

If you do need to test, test before breakfast and two hours after meals.

(If you're taking metformin, PHARMAC subsidises one box [50] of testing strips with each prescription).

If you aren't testing, check
your HbA1c every three to six months.

If you are testing, test one to three days a week.

Diet, exercise and sulphonylurea

Test before breakfast and two hours after meals.

Test one to three days a week (but see below *).

Diet, exercise and insulin

Test before meals and at bedtime.

Test two to three days a week (but see below *).

Type 1

Humalog, NovoRapid or Apidra with meals

Intermediate or long-acting insulin, once or twice daily (for example Protaphane, Humulin NPH, Glargine or Levemir)

Test before meals, two hours after meals and at bedtime.

Most people get the best control of their diabetes if they test every day and adjust their insulin dose according to each test result.

If you do not test and adjust your insulin each day, you can identify patterns and make dose adjustments by testing at least two days a week.

Get into a regular pattern of testing at least two to three days a week so it becomes a habit. If you want to test more often, that is OK.

* You should change to daily testing if you:

Food and activity record

Your doctor, nurse or dietitian may ask you to keep a food and activity record. This will help them check that your food choices are right for you and your level of activity.

  HealthInfo recommends the following videos

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia)

Written by Christchurch Diabetes Centre. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2022. Last updated February 2023.


See also:

Understanding your HbA1c results

Page reference: 178560

Review key: HIDIA-21832