How does a blood glucose meter work?

Keeping blood glucose levels (BGL) within a specified target range is one of the aims of diabetes management. Blood glucose monitoring is a way of testing the concentration of glucose in your blood.

Blood glucose monitoring can help you understand the link between BGL, food, exercise and insulin. Consistent monitoring allows you to pick up on patterns in your BGL which provide you and your healthcare team with the information required to determine the most effective management strategy for your diabetes.

To test your blood glucose, you will need a blood glucose meter, a lancing device and lancets and test strips.

How often should I test my levels and what levels am I aiming for? 

The answers to these questions vary depending on each individual, the type of diabetes and the medication being used. How often to test and what BGL to aim for will be decided by your doctor or credentialled diabetes educator. Some examples of common testing times include:

  • Before breakfast (fasting)
  • Before lunch/dinner
  • Two hours after a meal
  • Before bed
  • Before rigorous exercise
  • When you are feeling unwell

The following times are examples of when your BGL may need to be tested more often:

  • Changing or adjusting your insulin or medication
  • Experiencing symptoms including: hypoglycaemia (low BGL) or hyperglycaemia (high BGL), night sweats or morning headaches
  • Before/after minor surgical day procedure and after dental procedures
  • A female planning pregnancy or are pregnant
  • Increasing or decreasing your usual physical activity
  • Changing your usual routine or eating habits, e.g. travelling sick or stressed

Please discuss with your doctor or credentialled diabetes educator before making any changes to your treatment.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. Read the warnings available on before purchasing. Consult your healthcare professional to see which product is right for you.

Last Updated: 6th April 2022

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