How To Do Diabetes Home Test

diabetes home test

Last updated on June 13th, 2016

If you think you might be suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may wish to decide to find out for yourself by doing a diabetes home test.  Some symptoms that might lead you to go ahead and take the test include having an increased thirst, fatigue, increased frequency of urination, and increased hunger.  While you can have this checked out by your doctor, a diabetes home test may be more convenient and more affordable for you.

About 40 percent of people with type 2 diabetic disease don’t know that they have the problem. This means they aren’t getting treated and may suffer from diabetes complications later on, such as diabetic nephropathy (kidney failure), diabetic retinopathy (eye damage), diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), or heart disease, including strokes and heart attacks.

Diabetes Home Test

For whatever reason you don’t want to see the doctor to find out if you have diabetes, there are home diabetes test kits you can buy over the counter in order to see what your blood sugar numbers are.  Most diabetes test kits are called “glucometers” because they measure the amount of glucose in your blood.  A glucometer can cost up to $100 but is worth it if you have a high risk for the disease or have prediabetes, which is the precursor disease leading up to full blown type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Home Tests You Can Buy

There are dozens of diabetes home test kits, ranging from a kit that will just test your blood sugar once to glucometers that allow you to check your blood sugar as many times as you want to.  One kit has 10 lancets, which are the pointy things that you prick your finger with in order to get a drop of blood. A test like this is fairly cheap but, if you have to by a separate package of test trips, this will cost extra.

Make sure that the home diabetes test kit you choose has everything in it, including the glucose meter, the lancets for poking yourself, and test strips that are put into the meter to detect your blood sugar.  The test kit will give your blood glucose reading in just a few seconds and will give you a blood sugar result in milligrams per deciliter, which is the standard way that glucose levels are checked with at the doctor’s office.

Instructions for Using a Home Diabetes Test Kit

While you can check your blood sugar at any time of the day, it pays to do a fasting blood glucose reading that will tell you what your baseline blood sugar reading is after you have fasted overnight.  Blood sugar readings taken later in the day can be influenced by what you ate during the day and will not be able to accurately say you have diabetes unless the reading is above 200 mg per deciliter.

Diabetes Test Kit

Here are the general steps to taking your blood glucose level:

  • Don’t eat anything after midnight. This means you can have your dinner and perhaps a snack before bedtime, but you need to drink only water for at least eight hours before you do the test.
  • Read the directions. Most home diabetes tests are fairly straightforward but you need to read the instructions before setting the machine up and checking your blood glucose level.  You may have to do a standardization procedure prior to checking your own blood to make sure that the reader is accurately reading your blood glucose level.
  • Test the blood using your fingertip. The fingertip is the best place in which to obtain blood.  Some test kits will say that you can check your blood sugar from other places on your body, such as your arm; however, the fingertip is the best way to get a sample of your blood using the lancet.
  • Wash your hands. As there can be unknown amounts of sugar on your fingertips, it is a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water. This is because you can throw off your blood glucose reading if you have sugar, dirt, or other substances on your fingertips that will invalidate the test.  You need to use warm water and soap to clean your hands and then dry your fingertips carefully so they are free of water before testing.  You also need to use warm water because this can increase the circulation to the hands, making it easier to get a drop of blood from one of your fingers.
  • Brace the finger against something. If you think you might be squeamish and pull your finger away at the last second, you should set your finger on a firm surface, such as a table, with the fleshy part of your finger facing upward. It is from this fleshy part of the fingertip that the blood should be drawn.
  • Place the lancet into the lancet device. The kit should come with something to prick your finger tip with.  It is attached to a device that, when a button is pressed, you will drive the pointy part of the lancet into the fingertip.
  • Follow the instructions. Most of the time, the glucose meter will have a test strip that wicks up the blood you get from pricking the finger.  After the blood is wicked up into the test strip, the amount of glucose in the blood is measured.

Most home test kits will give you your answer after just a few seconds.  When you get your reading, write the number down and throw away both the lancet and the test strip.

What do the results mean?

If you do your testing on a fasting basis, this is what your home glucose test means:

  • If the number is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, you don’t have diabetes and you don’t have prediabetes.
  • If the number is between 100 and 124 milligrams per deciliter, it usually means that you have prediabetes. Prediabetes is an extremely common condition, affecting about 1/3 of US adults, according to statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  If you have prediabetes, your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 5 year is about 15-30 percent.
  • If the number is 125 milligrams per deciliter is more, you may have type 2 diabetes mellitus. This affects about 10 percent of US adults and is more common as you age.  People who are over 65 years of age have a chance of diabetes that is approximately 33 percent.

If the numbers are too high, you need not worry too much.  It means that you should make an appointment with your doctor to have the blood sugar reading confirmed on a fasting basis or to have a hemoglobin A1c level, which checks your average blood sugar over time.  If you have diabetes, your doctor will make lifestyle recommendations, including diet and exercise prescriptions, and may decide to prescribe diabetic medications.

References:

  1. A diabetes test you can do yourself. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/05/a-diabetes-test-you-can-do-yourself/index.htm.  Accessed 5/31/16.

Image credits: v1ctor

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