What is a Blood Sugar Test?

Tiffany Manley

A blood sugar test measures the amount of glucose in the blood. These tests might be done by a diabetic to monitor daily sugar levels, by a doctor testing a pregnant woman for gestational diabetes or by a doctor testing someone for prediabetes or diabetes. Blood sugar tests can measure fasting blood sugar levels or blood sugar levels after eating. There are several ways to conduct a blood sugar test, and it is a simple process that can be done by the person being tested.

Blood sugar levels can be measured through blood samples.
Blood sugar levels can be measured through blood samples.

The most common way to test blood sugar levels is to use a home blood sugar monitoring kit. This kit usually has a lancet, testing strips and a meter. A person pricks his or her finger with the lancet, touches the test strip to the spot where blood appears, then places the strip in the meter. The meter then reads the strip and displays how much glucose is present in the blood sample. These devices generally are available at pharmacies and retail stores.

A lancet is usually included in a blood sugar monitoring test kit.
A lancet is usually included in a blood sugar monitoring test kit.

There are some meters available that will test blood sugar using blood drawn from sites other than a finger. The upper arm, the base of the thumb and the thigh are areas that can be used as alternatives sites for drawing blood for a blood sugar test. It is important to keep in mind that readings taken from these sites are not always as accurate as those taken from the fingertip. Fingertips show changes in blood sugar levels faster than most other spots on the body.

Two relatively new devices also might be used to perform a blood sugar test. One uses a small catheter that is placed just below the skin to draw a small amount of fluid to test over a 72-hour period. Another looks much like a wristwatch and uses electric current to draw small amounts of fluid from the skin for testing as many as three times per hour for 12 hours. Both of these devices, and others like it, demonstrate a push toward less invasive blood sugar testing. Many doctors feel that fingertip testing continues to be the best way to conduct a blood sugar test.

The specific blood sugar levels found in testing is dependent upon the person. It is important for each individual to consult a doctor to find out what his or her specific reading should be. This could be key in successfully managing blood sugar levels or diabetes. Eating foods that are high in protein and contain good carbohydrates also can assist someone in managing his or her blood sugar levels in a healthy way.

A blood sugar test can be done at home to monitor blood sugar levels for those suffering from diabetes.
A blood sugar test can be done at home to monitor blood sugar levels for those suffering from diabetes.

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Discussion Comments


When I was first diagnosed with pre-diabetes, my doctor said I should buy a store brand blood sugar monitor and do a blood sugar level test at least once a day. He said most of those low-end monitors were not required to be as accurate as professional medical equipment, but they still did a pretty good job of letting people know if their blood sugar levels were too high or too low.

I had gotten used to having high blood sugar levels after I ate a heavy meal, but I wasn't prepared for a low blood sugar test result. I knew I was starting to feel lightheaded and a little confused mentally, but I never thought I'd actually have a blood sugar level of 35 in my present condition.


I remember being scared to death before taking my first blood sugar test. I've always hated the thought of pricking my fingers on purpose. My wife actually put the spring-loaded lancet on my middle fingertip and all I felt was a little sting when she hit the button. The blood just sort of pooled up into a drop; I didn't have to squeeze my finger or anything. She showed me where to place the end of the test strip and it just drew up a little blood automatically.

The machine took about 5 seconds to analyze the sample and display a number. It was 272, and my wife (who is diabetic) said that was way too high for a healthy person. She strongly urged me to see a doctor, and he gave me a fasting blood sugar test. It confirmed that I was indeed diabetic. I now test two or three times a day and don't even think about the finger stick or the blood.

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