How often do I need to test my blood glucose?
How often to test blood sugar levels is a common question particularly amongst people that are newly diagnosed with diabetes or that have moved onto a new treatment regimen.
The frequency at which you should test your blood will be dependent upon the treatment regimen you are on as well as individual circumstances.
Blood glucose testing can help you to identify any hypos and hypers and provide information on how to keep your diabetes under control
It is sadly quite common for some people's healthcare team to suggest people with diabetes to test less often or not test at all even when their patients are keen.
Should I test my blood glucose levels?
If you are on medication that puts you at risk of hypos, you should test your blood glucose levels.
Medications that can cause hypos include:
- Insulin (all types of insulin)
- Sulphonylureas (glibenclamide, gliclazide, glipizide, glimepiride, tolbutamide)
- Prandial glucose regulators (repaglinide, nateglinide)
This means that all people with type 1 diabetes need to regularly test their blood glucose levels.
If you have another type of diabetes and are not on any of the medication above, there is less necessity to test your blood sugar but there is still plenty of benefit to be had in testing your blood sugar.
- Read about the benefits of blood glucose testing
It has previously been reported by research that some people may find blood glucose testing distressing.
This is more likely to be the case when people have not received education about how to interpret and act upon the results. When people know how to interpret the results, blood glucose testing is usually regarded as a substantial benefit.
Blood glucose testing for type 1 diabetes
The 2015 NICE guidelines recommend that people with type 1 diabetes test their blood glucose at least 4 times per day, including before each meal and before bed.
Your doctor should also support you to test more regularly to ensure you test at the following times: 
- Before driving and at least once every 2 hours on longer journeys
- Before, during and after exercise
- Testing more regularly during periods of illness
- During pregnancy or breastfeeding or when planning pregnancy
- If you are having regular hypos
- If you have an impaired ability to spot hypo symptoms
- If you are not achieving the target HbA1c of 48 mmol/mol (6.5%)
- If taking part in high-risk activities
Blood glucose testing for other types of diabetes
How often people with other types of diabetes should test their blood sugar will vary depending on what medication is taken and personal circumstances.
People on multiple insulin injections per day or on an insulin pump should test as often as people with type 1 diabetes.
If you are on medication that can cause hypos, you should, at the least, be able to test your blood glucose whenever you notice any possible signs of hypoglycemia.
Blood glucose testing is useful for testing how much different meals and activities affect your blood glucose levels. This tends to be of particular use for people with type 2 diabetes.
- Read more about pre and post meal blood glucose testing
Can I test my blood too few times?
Depending on how your diabetes is treated, it is possible to test too little. For example, people with type 1 diabetes that are testing less than 4 times per day are likely to find it more difficult to understand their sugar levels and are likely to experience poorer control than someone testing at least 4 times per day.
Struggling to test your blood glucose levels as often you should can often be linked with psychologiocal issues such as being in denial about your diabetes, experiencing diabetes burnout or suffering from depression.
If you’re on medication that can cause hypos, you must by law test your blood sugar levels before each drive and at least as often as once every 2 hours of a journey. Failure to do this could lead to a hypo at the wheel and a number of road accidents happen every year in the UK as a result of hypoglycemia.
Diabetes.co.uk has been made aware that many people have experienced difficulty with being prescribed sufficient blood glucose testing supplies to adequately manage their diabetes.
- For more on this issue, read our guide on the availability of blood glucose test strips.
Can I test my blood too many times?
A situation in which you could be testing more often than you need is if the testing you are doing is not providing any help in managing your diabetes.
Note that in type 1 diabetes, testing before each meal and before bed is a necessary part of diabetes control as it helps you to keep track of whether or when your blood sugar levels are going too high or too low.
People with other types of diabetes, such as type 2 diabetes, may be testing too often if it is not understood how to make sense of or respond to the results.
If you have type 2 diabetes and would like to have a better understanding of what your blood sugar levels mean, you can benefit from joining the Type 2 Testing Program.