If you have diabetes, you are much more likely to develop complications from it. Regular monitoring and testing are necessary to catch issues before they become big problems.
Once you know you have diabetes, the next step is learning how to test for it at home. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or have any risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, testing your blood sugar regularly can help prevent the disease from developing.
While it can be a bit scary to learn that you have prediabetes, this knowledge makes testing even more important to catch the disease early on.
And while most doctor visits will include a fasting blood sugar check as part of an exam, these tests aren’t always necessary every time. Testing at home is a simple way to monitor your health between appointments and make sure that everything stays in balance.
In this article, we will look at the possibility of testing for diabetes at home, its accuracy, and much more.
Can I do an At-home Diabetes Test?
Yes, you can do an at-home diabetes test. Most people with diabetes will learn how to test their blood sugar either with a finger prick or with a continuous glucose monitor.
Before we go any further, let’s help you develop a greater understanding of the condition, so you will better comprehend why regularly testing for diabetes is essential.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects the way your body uses insulin, a hormone that helps move blood sugar out of your blood and into your cells.
When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it correctly. This can cause high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious complications if it isn’t treated.
Blood sugar levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
- Normal blood sugar levels are between 70 and 99 mg/dL.
- Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar is above 100 mg/dL but below 125 mg/dL.
- If your blood sugar levels are 126 mg/dL or higher, you are considered diabetic.
Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes
With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin injections as part of their treatment.
Without enough insulin, blood sugar levels rise and can cause serious complications, such as blindness, heart disease, and nerve damage. Type 1 diabetes affects about three to five children in every 1,000 and is more common in children under five years of age.
The vast majority of cases occur in people of Northern European descent, though it has been increasing in prevalence worldwide. People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce any or enough insulin to control their blood glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes may develop at any point during life; however, most people diagnosed with the disease before the age of 20 are diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 10.
There is no cure for type 1 diabetes yet, but there are several treatments that can help manage symptoms, such as a high blood sugar level and weight loss. Also, this is why glucose monitoring and testing for diabetes are necessary.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar levels are too high. This happens because your body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that helps the body process sugar from the food you eat.
Insulin is made in the pancreas, a gland near the stomach. Type 2 diabetes usually develops over time. But it can also happen if you have an illness or injury, if you are overweight, or if you don’t get enough exercise.
You can also get type 2 diabetes if your insulin doesn’t work right.
Having type 2 diabetes doesn’t automatically mean that you will get serious health problems. It is possible to live a long and healthy life with type 2 diabetes.
But it does increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and other problems over time. To prevent these and other potential complications, doing regular screening, like an at-home diabetes test, is essential. This allows you to identify and treat any abnormalities early.
Other types of diabetes
There are also several other types of diabetes. These include:
- gestational diabetes, which some women experience during pregnancy
- cystic fibrosis-associated diabetes, which occurs in people with cystic fibrosis
- prediabetes, which is a condition that puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes.
While a single blood glucose test can give you an idea of what’s going on in your body, it doesn’t give you a full picture. Testing your blood sugar at regular intervals helps you catch trends and find ways to stay healthy and thrive.
If you have a doctor who is monitoring your diabetes, you should make sure to let them know that you want to do some testing at home. They might want you to do specific tests at different times, so make sure to follow their instructions.
How can I Test for Diabetes at Home?
Testing your blood sugar at home is an easy way to keep an eye on your health. To do a blood glucose test, you’ll need a blood glucose meter, a lancet, and a small drop of blood sample, usually taken from one of your fingertips.
You can insert the lancet into your finger using a lancing device, or you can use a sample of blood from another part of your body.
You’ll want to test your blood either before or an hour after eating and at the same time each day. Before you test, make sure the meter is calibrated and ready to go.
There are some other basic steps to take when using a diabetes test kit at home to ensure you get accurate readings or test results.
The Step-by-Step Process of Doing a Diabetes Test at Home
- Before you test, make sure the meter is calibrated and ready to go, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This helps to prevent contamination.
- After washing your hands, insert a test strip into the meter.
- If you are testing your blood from a finger prick, make sure you disinfect the area, usually with 70% rubbing alcohol, before taking the sample.
- If you are testing blood from another part of your body, you will use a lancet to pierce the skin. Once again, you must clean the sample collection area first. The standard is 70% rubbing alcohol; however, alcohol pads are another great choice.
- After pricking the skin, wait for the blood drop to appear, then collect it directly onto the test strip. Be careful not to contaminate the drop of blood.
- After dropping the blood into the testing strip on the meter, the test results will appear in a few seconds. If you are testing on a continuous glucose monitor, read the meter’s screen.
- Make a note of the reading and check it against normal levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you ask your doctor if you should report results out of a certain range right away by phone.
- There are several other ways to test for diabetes. Each of these tests has its strengths and weaknesses. Your doctor may use a combination of these tests to get a complete picture of your health and to provide you with medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment plan.
It is crucial to bear in mind that although you can do an at-home test for diabetes at home, if you have type 1 diabetes or if you take insulin, these factors could affect the accuracy of the test results. As such, follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely.
Are At-home Diabetes Tests Accurate?
Blood glucose meters are one of the most accurate diagnostic tools available. Several brands offering home tests are available over-the-counter, or you can be tested at a lab.
The manufacturers of at-home diabetes tests are subjected to running a series of quality and standards-related tests and passing them in order to market their products.
However, there are factors that may affect the accuracy of your test kit or test results.
Incorrect calibration of your glucometer
One such is the incorrect calibration of your glucometer, but there are several ways that you can check that your meter is calibrated properly.
Old or damaged strips
Using an old test strip could also affect the accuracy of your results. It is best to get rid of expired and damaged test strips. Store strips properly in their sealed and original container.
This ensures they don’t get wet or sustain other damage from moisture and humidity.
Also, don’t use the wrong brand of strips. Use your specific glucose meter with its specific strips.
If your glucometer is getting old and malfunctioning, it is best to change it, as it more than likely will give you incorrect readings.
Alcohol or contaminated skin
Ensure that the area is completely dry after cleaning it with alcohol to prevent that alcohol from contaminating your blood sample.
Not enough blood applied to the test strip
Be sure to get a full drop of blood or what is often described as a generous drop onto the test strip. However, do not add too much blood either, as both too little or too much blood on the test strip will certainly skew the reading.
There are certain medical conditions that can affect your diabetes test results at home and make them less than accurate. Dehydration and anemia, which is a low red blood cell count are two such conditions that reduce the quality of the blood cells, thereby affecting the blood sample.
Testing site location
Sometimes the site used can affect the test results. So, if you’re unsure about the accuracy of the reading from another site., it is best just to double-check it using a blood sample from a fingertip.
Blood samples from other sites tend not to be as accurate as fingertip samples, particularly when the blood sugar level is rapidly or frequently fluctuating.
Other reasons for inaccuracy
A finger prick test is a quick, painless way to check your blood glucose levels. It should be done at the same time every day to get an accurate reading so you know how your diet, exercise, and other factors are impacting your blood sugar levels.
A post-meal test is another option that involves a finger prick, but instead of testing your blood glucose levels, you are testing your blood for glucose. You will test your blood after eating a meal and compare it to a reading from a normal day to see how your blood glucose levels are affected by your diet. Taking the test too early or too late after a meal can give inaccurate results.
A fasting blood glucose test measures your blood glucose levels before you eat. This is a helpful test for people with diabetes who are taking medication since it shows how the medication impacts your blood glucose levels.
Diabetes is a serious disease, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Diabetes is manageable and treatable, and many people with the disease lead long, healthy, and happy lives.
Regular monitoring and testing are an important part of managing diabetes and are thankfully more affordable, private, and convenient than at-home diabetes tests.
Blood glucose tests are a simple way to stay on top of your health, and they are a lot less scary than they sound.