Blood glucose monitoring can help you keep your glucose levels within a specified target range by balancing food, exercise and insulin, thus reducing your chances of diabetes complications. A range of testing and monitoring equipment is available to help people manage their diabetes. Your doctor or diabetes nurse or educator can advise you on the most appropriate equipment for you and your situation.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recommends that if you have type 2 diabetes and take oral medication only, you should talk to your doctor or specialist about the need to test your blood sugar levels at home, as most people in this situation do not need to do this type of monitoring. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.
Blood sugar testing equipment
Testing your blood glucose (blood sugar) level is the only accurate way of knowing whether it is too high or low. You cannot accurately judge your blood sugar level just by how you feel.
You can check your blood sugar level using the following equipment:
- Blood glucose meter - a finger-prick device is used to draw a drop of blood from your finger, which you put on a special stick. You then use the meter to see how much glucose is in the blood.
- Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion pumps (or ‘insulin pumps’) - these are becoming increasingly popular (more than 40% of younger people with type 1 diabetes are using them) and may offer better glucose control and lead to less diabetes complications.
- Continuous glucose monitoring device (CGM) - a sensor is placed under the skin, which measures your glucose levels 24 hours a day. CGM is useful for people who have ongoing problems controlling their blood sugar level. The cost, including consumables (sensors), is around $5,000 per year. The Australian Government is now providing access to subsidised continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) products through the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS).
Products that are subsidised by the National Diabetes Services Scheme, such as needles, syringes, blood glucose test strips, urine test strips and insulin pump consumables, are available from NDSS Access Points, usually your local community pharmacy.
Ketone testing equipment
Not all people with diabetes need to test for ketones. Mostly it is for patients using insulin. Your doctor or diabetes nurse or educator will advise you if you need to or not.
If you need to test for ketones, you can use:
- Testing strips or sticks - these are dipped into your urine and change colour to show the amount of ketones in your body.
- Blood test meters – these test for ketones in your blood, and work in a similar way to blood glucose testing.
For more information, read about diabetes testing and monitoring problems.
Managing my diabetes - video
Last reviewed: July 2018