5 Must-Have Tools to Measure Your Blood Sugar

What you need to measure your blood sugar.

Medically Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on July 18, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

If you've just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you'll need some supplies to help you manage your blood sugar. These include:

Blood Sugar Meter

This device, also called a glucose meter or monitor, measures how much sugar (or glucose) is in a drop of your blood. It can tell you when your sugar is too low or too high. Talk to your doctor about what to do in those situations.

Glucose meters can also show you how diet, exercise, stress, sickness, and your medications affect blood sugar.

“Get the [one] that you feel comfortable and confident using,” says Jane Seley, a diabetes nurse practitioner at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Make sure the screen is large enough to read. And choose a meter that requires less than a microliter blood sample. “It’s much more comfortable,” Seley says. “You don’t have to stick yourself as deep. It’s much easier to be successful, and you won’t waste as many test strips.”

Consider a meter that can download your readings to your smartphone, tablet, or computer. “You can see charts of how your blood sugars differ throughout the day,” Seley says. “It helps you make better decisions about things like when to exercise and what to have for breakfast.”

Test Strips, Lancets, and Lancet Device

Each small plastic strip contains chemicals that convert the sugar in your blood into an electric current that your meter can read. Wash your hands first, then put a test strip into your meter. Prick the side of your fingertip with a small needle called a lancet.

The lancet fits inside a lancet device. About the shape and size of a pen, it’s spring-loaded to help you prick your finger easily with just the right amount of pressure. You then squeeze a single drop of blood onto the strip, and your meter measures the sugar.

If you’re not taking insulin, your insurance might cover only a limited number of test strips. Medicare covers about one a day. Ask your doctor how you can best use your strips to learn how meals, exercise, and rest affect your blood sugar.

Sharps Containers

Put lancets in sharps containers before they go in the trash. You can get inexpensive sharps containers at the drugstore. Or use bleach or detergent bottles made of thick plastic that you can’t see through, Seley says.

Ask Your Doctor

  • Can you check to see if I’m using my blood sugar meter correctly?
  • Is my A1c (the average level of blood sugar over the past 3 months) on target? If not, what can I do to get it there?
  • What are the best times to test my blood sugar?
  • What should my blood sugar be before and after meals?

Show Sources


Jane Seley, DNP, New York Presbyterian Hospital. 

Mayo Clinic. 



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