Check Your Blood Sugar to Avoid Complications

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on May 26, 2019

When you have diabetes, you may need to check your blood sugar throughout the day. It can help you decide what to eat and whether your medication needs to be adjusted. It can also help you steer clear of diabetes-related problems like:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Blindness
  • Kidney disease
  • Skin problems

Ways to Check Your Blood Sugar

Self-Checking: Give yourself a blood sugar test as often as your doctor advises. To do it, you use a gadget that pricks your finger with a tiny needle. You’ll put a drop of blood onto a test strip. The strip goes into a handheld device that measures your blood sugar level.

Record the test results, so you can share it with your doctor. Based on your results, the two of you may adjust your diet, exercise, or medication.

A1c Test: This is a blood test you'll get in your doctor's office at least twice a year, or as often as they recommend.

The results show your average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months. You and your doctor need this test to see how well your diabetes treatment plan is working, so you can make changes if you need to.


Think of it this way: Self-checking is like a daily snapshot of your blood sugar control. The A1c test gives you the big picture.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring System: If you choose this method, your doctor will place a tiny sensor under your skin to check blood sugar levels every 5 minutes. It sends data to a monitor that you wear like a pager for a few days.

You'll still need to check your levels throughout the day; continuous glucose monitoring doesn't replace that. It gives your doctor more information about trends that self-checking might not show.

WebMD Medical Reference



The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.

National Diabetes Foundation Program.

American Diabetes Association.


Diabetes Care.

National Library of Medicine.

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