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HealthInfo Aoraki-South Canterbury

Blood glucose (sugar) self-monitoring

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 (sugar) 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 GP or diabetes nurse may advise a slightly different individual routine. If you are not sure about anything, ask them for advice.

You may also find this video called How to Check Your Blood Sugar helpful. It shows you how to use a finger prick test to monitor your blood glucose.

How often and when to check your blood glucose (sugar) 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 are 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 don't 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 to check that your food choices are right for you and your level of activity.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)

Written by Christchurch Diabetes Centre. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2019.


See also:

Understanding your HbA1c results

Page reference: 671700

Review key: HIDIA-21832