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When to test blood sugar

Routine or daily testing

Timing your routine or daily testing as recommended can help you see how your meals, medications and activities affect your blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that you routinely test blood sugar levels as an effective part of any self-care program. For people using insulin, the ADA recommends testing 3 or more times a day.1 If you take another kind of medication, test your blood sugar level as often as your healthcare team recommends. Your logbook is a good way to keep track of routine testing results.

You and your healthcare team will determine when you should test your blood sugar based on your current health, age and level of activity, as well as the time of day and other factors. They may suggest that you test your blood sugar at any of the following times: 2, 3

  • Before each meal
  • 1 or 2 hours after a meal
  • Before a bedtime snack
  • In the middle of the night
  • Before physical activity, to see if you need a snack
  • During and after physical activity
  • If you think your blood sugar might be too high or too low, or falling
  • When you're sick or under stress

Structured testing

In addition to your routine or daily testing schedule, you may want to consider testing your blood sugar levels in a structured way if you:

  • Adjust your insulin or oral medication
  • Begin a new medication unrelated to diabetes
  • Change your activity program, meal plan, work or school schedule

Short-term structured testing supports your routine or daily testing by having you check your blood sugar before and after the things you do. It can help you determine if you're in a safe range and to problem-solve around how the things you do are connected to your blood sugar. Use these tools to make changes one step at a time, instead of trying to change everything at once.

If you find you're doing everything your healthcare team recommends but your A1C test result is rising, or if you don't feel well, be sure to talk with your healthcare professional. He or she can give you an ACCU-CHEK 360° View tool to complete to help you see your blood sugar patterns over 3 days. At a glance, you two will be able to quickly see patterns that can be used to make adjustments to your treatment plan that can help you feel better and lower your A1C.4

Once you know what to work on, you may decide to go a step further and try a 7-day challenge with the ACCU-CHEK Testing in Pairs tool. The easy-to-use ACCU-CHEK Testing in Pairs tool helps look at one thing and see the change with before-and-after testing. You can see changes in your blood sugar before and after a specific meal, exercise or other event. Use it for 7 days to see how one thing in your daily routine affects your blood sugar.

Take your completed tool to your next appointment so your healthcare professional can help you fine-tune your diabetes management.

Combining routine blood sugar testing and structured testing gives you a better view and a clearer picture of how your self-care program is working. You can then take one step at a time toward your goals to enjoy a longer, healthier life.

How to test blood sugar

Alternate site testing

1American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes–2011 [position statement]. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(1):S11-S61. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/Supplement_1/S11.full. Accessed November 15, 2011.
2Joslin Diabetes Center. Blood glucose monitoring, your tool for diabetes control. Available at: http://www.joslin.org/managing_your_diabetes_650.asp. Accessed November 15, 2011.
3American Diabetes Association. Fresh air, fresh start. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/ideas-for-exercise/fresh-air-fresh-start.html. Accessed November 15, 2011.
4Polonsky WH, et al. Structured self-monitoring of blood glucose significantly reduces A1C levels in poorly controlled, noninsulin-treated type 2 diabetes: results from the Structured Testing Program study. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(2):262-267.

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A hormone produced by the pancreas. The body uses insulin to let glucose enter cells, where it is used for energy.

The long-term measure of blood sugar control. The A1C test measures how many A1C hemoglobin cells (a specific part of red blood cells) have sugar attached to them. Because these cells live for about four months, this gives a picture of how well blood sugar has been controlled for the past few months. The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1C result of 7% or less to help reduce the risk of long-term complications of diabetes.*


*American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes–2011 [position statement]. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(1):S11-S61. Available at: http://care.
diabetesjournals.org/content/34/Supplement_1/S11.full Accessed November 15, 2011.