How often do I need to test my Blood Glucose?

Testing your blood sugar levels is an essential part of diabetes management
Testing your blood sugar levels is an essential part of diabetes management

Contrary to common wisdom, the answer to this is not just as often as your healthcare team suggests you do. It’s an intelligent mix of that information and your own wishes - mainly how often you want to blood test.

OK, so most of us don’t want to blood test, we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t have to.

Though, it might be argued that for some of us as we do have diabetes, we’d much rather blood test than not, as we know it helps us avoid hypos and hypers and that it’s a valuable aid to just living an easier life.

You may not be required to blood test

Depending on your diagnosis, you may not be asked to blood test at all. But depending on who you are, you might want to anyway.

It’s been reported by research that some people find blood testing distressing.

This did seem to be particularly unhelpful research. No one’s going to jump at the chance are they?

Understanding the benefits of testing

But if you understand the benefits then presumably you’d find not testing more stressful.

Testing not just ‘can’ but will help you to engage better with your help, giving you information as to what is going on in terms of blood sugar levels in your body.

Knowledge is power - with it you have the chance to correct highs or lows, meaning you can get on with your life without having to worry about them.

And you do get used to the whole rigmarole. You do start being interested in new meters than can do bigger, better, faster things. It’s not all bad.

Lancets are less painful than ever before, some meters now have colour screens and you can get stickers for them.

They’re both more medical and less medical than ever before and there’s a wide range of nearly 40 meters now available in the UK. You might even start to like your meter. I certainly feel a little lost without mine.

I'm type 2 and encouraged not to test

Type 2s are often not encouraged to test, but if you want to, then pretty much demand that you get strips from your GP. They should not be able to refuse you.

Most Type 1s blood test more-or-less before each meal, and sometimes do a little extra test mid-morning, mid-afternoon and before bed.

Can I test my blood too few times?

If you should be testing more, then you’ve either got a very bad dose of Lazyitis or you’re in denial about your diabetes

Try to take a bit more interest. It is a dilemma - if you’re in denial the last thing you’re going to want to do is ‘snap out of it’, but it’s really not that bad. Try to find someone to talk to and see if you can deny your denial the winning hand. Not looking after yourself will have a poorer outcome than doing something – so face the fear and get into gear.

Can I test my blood too many times?

Some people test a couple of times an hour. Is that too much? Maybe not if that helps them keep their head. They should maybe try to lighten up, or talk to their healthcare team about big-picture, long-term strategies that help you wean yourself off over-reliance on testing.

But if it’s doing you no harm, then do as you dig and don’t let any one stop you. It’s your health.

Your Comments
Poor carophie04, I think its disgusting you are not prescribed testing strips. I am type two and my surgery was reluctant to prescribe a meter and strips. I pointed out that they were willing to supply drug addicts with needles and drugs to feed their self imposed habit, and they would gladly supply prostitues with with contaceptives. I demanded that they treat my heath problem. My sugar is now much better as I test regulary. Persevere, go back to your surgery and demand the strips.
Posted by Rose Kit, Lincoln on Monday, February 20, 2012
I have been denied strips by my doctor and now have to buy them. I was told that I had done very well with my diabetes type 2 by my doctor to which I answered 'That is because I have always tested!'. Still no strips on prescription.
Posted by dot, Cornwall on Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Surely there should be a ruling on this question of GP's and the issue of test strips? I am Type 2 and have been told I cannot be prescribed them to keep abreast of my BG levels and as a pensioner am finding I have to go without certain things (cutting down on heating, not socialising to save petrol and buying reduced food) in order to buy test strips which are over £20 a time at my pharmacy! Can I demand my GP prescribes them in order to self-monitor my condition or do I have to accept his denying me them?
Posted by carophie04, West Sussex on Thursday, January 12, 2012
About 2 years ago my doctor told me I shouldn't testing every day, if at all, because my results were fine, under 7%. I guessed that it was because of costs. Some time after, the practice sent me a note saying they were taking the strips off my prescription. I said I wouldn't be able to keep it under control if I didn't test. A year or so along, my fasting levels were up to 9%. I reminded the doctor it wouldn't have happened if I had been testing. He reluctantly let me have strips again. I started buying a few strips off ebay to help me along as I daren't ask the doctor for too many, but being a pensioner, I couldn't afford to keep that up. Now I am back down to normal. What is the point of stating what we should aim for, then not giving us the tools we need to accomplish this?
Posted by Christine S, Bedfordshire on Friday, November 25, 2011
This nurse really should be struck off. I have heard of this before it happened to a cousin of mine. She had to get the doctor to tell the nurse that there was in fact no limit on testing. Me I am type 2 and it's well in control. I only test in the morning prior to breakfast its always mid 5s but occasionally down to 4.3. It's getting better all the time since I went on Orlistat three times per day. I know its not good for everyone but it works for me Regards DaveC
Posted by DaveC on Thursday, September 22, 2011
I am type 1 and my diabetes nurse says I can only have enough strips to test once every 3 days. It is ridiculous as I need to test up to 7 times a day to ensure a stable blood sugar level. Are they legally obliged by the NHS to give me the strips that I need?
Posted by Barry Ley, Leics on Monday, March 14, 2011
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