How Do I Self-Monitor My Blood Glucose (SMBG)?

You use a blood glucose meter to do this. It’s small and portable, so you can do a blood sugar test at home or while on the go.

Know YOUR Targets*:
To measure your blood glucose (sugar) levels you must first know what your targets are. Your doctor or Diabetes Educator will provide this.

Your target may not be the same as the examples in this blood sugar levels chart. Yours should be specific to you.

Blood glucose level before meals Blood glucose level 2 hours after eating a meal
Target level for most adults with diabetes 4.0 to 7.0 5.0 to 10.0
(5.0 to 8.0 if A1C targets are not being met – see information below about A1C)

* This information is based on the Canadian Diabetes Association 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada and is a guide.

  • How do I test my blood sugar levels?

    You can do this at home using a blood glucose meter. These meters can be purchased at most pharmacies or you may get one from your Diabetes Educator. Talk with them about what type of meter is best for you, and how you should use it. You should also ask:

    • how and where to draw blood
    • the size of the drop of blood needed
    • the type of blood glucose strips to use and how to dispose of lancets
    • how to clean the meter
    • how to check if the meter is accurate
    • how to code your meter if needed

    Note: Your province or territory may cover some of the cost of blood glucose monitoring supplies. Contact your local Canadian Diabetes Association branch to find out.

  • How do I keep my blood sugar levels within my target range?

    Follow the treatment plan that your doctor or Diabetes Educator has provided. Healthy eating habits, an active lifestyle, and medication (if necessary) will help keep your blood glucose levels where they should be.

  • If I’m sick do I need to do anything differently when checking my blood sugar?

    Do frequent tests. Your blood glucose levels may change more often when you’re ill, so it’s best to check in with your Diabetes Educator or doctor, and find out more than you normally do (for example, every 2 to 4 hours).

    Continue taking your medication. If you have a cold or flu and will be taking a cold remedy or cough syrup try to choose a sugar-free product. You should also check with your healthcare team about guidelines for insulin adjustment or medication changes during an illness.

    Drink plenty of extra sugar-free fluids or water. Avoid liquids that contain caffeine – for example: coffee, tea, and cola – as they may cause you to dehydrate.

    Don’t skip meals. If you can’t eat as you normally would then replace solid food with fluids that contain glucose (sugar).

    If you are not eating as you normally do, consume 15 grams of carbohydrates every hour only if you are not eating as you normally do. For example: this might be 175 mL (3/4 cup) of juice or regular soft drink, or 15 g of glucose in the form of glucose tablets (preferred choice).

    Know when to get medical help. Contact your doctor or go to the emergency room if you vomit and/or have had diarrhea 2 times in more than 4 hours.

  • Ask your doctor about the ABCDEs to REDUCE your risk of heart attack and stroke:

    A1C – Glucose control target is usually 7% or less

    BP – Blood pressure control (less than 130/80 mmHg)

    Cholesterol – LDL cholesterol in less than or equal to 2.0 mmol/L. Your doctor may choose to give you medication to keep your cholesterol at or less than 2.0 mmol/L

    Drugs to protect your heart: Blood pressure pills (ACE inhibitors or ARBs), cholesterol lowering pills (statins), or ASA (Aspirin). These drugs will protect your heart even if your blood pressure or cholesterol is already at target.

    Exercise / Eating – Regular physical activity which includes, healthy eating, achievement and maintenance of healthy body weight

    Stop smoking and manage stress

Common Terms

Blood Glucose:
The amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood at a given time.

Blood Glucose Meter:
Blood Glucose Meter

Blood Glucose Test Strip:
Used with your meter, to test blood sugar levels from home.

Small device used to take a blood sample.