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Posted on Dec 21, 2013 |

How often should diabetics use a glucometer to monitor blood glucose levels?

How often should diabetics use a glucometer to monitor blood glucose levels?

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If you are a diabetic, or have a family member who suffers from the disease, you must know the pain that goes with constantly checking one’s blood glucose levels. Although, keeping a tab on one’s glucose levels at regular intervals is important, there is something as too much checking. We asked Dr Rajiv Kovil, leading diabetologist, about how often and why one should check their blood glucose levels.


Checking one’s blood glucose using a glucometer is known as SMBG (Self Monitoring of Blood Glucose). This is where a person monitors their blood glucose level using a portable device known as a glucometer in the comfort of their home. This machine takes a small drop of blood, collected on glucometer strip (a strip of paper specially designed for the device) and checks it for the amount of glucose in the person’s body. Dr Kovil says, ‘SMBG (Self Monitoring of Blood Glucose) is tool to find out a patient’s glycaemic variability. It should be used to guide patient and his/her doctor.’

How often should one check their glucose level?

The frequency of the checks vary, depending on the type of diabetes one suffers from.

Type 2 diabetics

According to Dr Kovil, ‘A type 2 diabetic should measure his/her glucose levels once before a meal and once two hours after a meal. This should be done on different days at different times, also known as scattered checks’. These checks help your doctor know how well your body is responding to a particular medication, and if any  changes in the dosages are required. It also gives him/her a fair idea about how your body is coping with the disease and if you are at any further risk from associated conditions like heart disease, eye disorders and vascular disorders.

Type 1 diabetics

In the case of type 1 diabetics, Dr Kovil says, ‘Such diabetics should have a 7 point check, before and after meals, along with a 3 am reading.’ A 7 point check is where the person checks their glucose levels over a varying period of time, and the doctor can plot a graph of how well the person is doing on their current insulin replacement therapy. It is also a good way to know how well their body is tolerating the earlier dose of insulin and how much they need as their next dose.

 Gestational diabetics:

According to Dr Kovil, ‘In women suffering from gestational diabetes, SMBG must be done before meals and 1 hour after meals. Since this is when one’s blood sugar levels are likely to be the lowest and highest respectively.’ Therefore, monitoring one’s level is essential to the health of the mother and baby.

For those with unstable diabetes:

Dr Kovil says, ‘For those suffering from brittle diabetes (unstable diabetes) along with Type 1 diabetes,  should use the CGMS (Continuous Glucose Monitoring System) of monitoring their blood glucose.’  ‘Unlike traditional meters that provide a one-time snapshot of one’s blood glucose levels, continuous glucose monitors (CGMSs) measure one’s glucose levels  every few minutes. This system is essential for people suffering from this kind of diabetes since they need to keep a tab on their blood glucose levels at all times.’ Explains Dr Kovil.

Finally, don’t keep pricking your fingers whenever you deem fit. Instead, just follow instructions based on the type of diabetes you suffer from, and you should be on your way to well managed diabetes and not to mention less sore finger tips.