The Pain of Monitoring my Blood Sugar

In a nutshell, diabetes is a disease in which the body is incapable of properly converting sugars into usable energy. Some patients may be able to control this condition with dietary changes, while others may need to monitor their blood sugar and possibly even take medication to regulate blood sugar levels. If your doctor has instructed you to monitor your blood sugar, it is extremely important to do so – such monitoring may literally save your life. Unfortunately, monitoring blood sugar may be painful for some patients.

In most cases, blood sugar is monitored by using a small needle, called a lancet, to prick a finger to acquire a drop of blood. This drop is then touched to a short testing strip inserted into a glucometer, which delivers concise results. Understandably, pricking a finger several times daily may be painful for many patients. Fortunately, there are some simple steps patients may take to lessen this pain.

  • Test on the side of the finger – Instinct may drive many diabetes patients to test on the tip of the finger, however testing on the side may be more efficient. There tends to be better bloodflow on the side of the finger, and this area also tends to be less sensitive to pain.

  • Warm Your Hands – Blood will flow more easily from warm hands, which will reduce pain. Sitting on your hand for a moment, rubbing your hands together, or even simply washing your hands in warm water should be sufficient to get the desired results.

  • Skip the rubbing alcohol – It is important for your hands to be clean before testing your sugar. Residue on your skin may alter readings. Rubbing alcohol, however, may not be the best method. Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, which may temporarily lower the temperature for your hand. Furthermore, the astringent properties of rubbing alcohol tightens skin, which may lead to increased levels of pain when pricking the finger.

  • Adjust the lancet settings – The needle used to prick the finger is known as a lancet. This is loaded into a small machine that fires the needle forward into the skin. If testing is always painful, your lancet may be going too deep into the skin. Adjusting settings may reduce pain. If you have difficulty finding the best setting for your needs, a diabetes educator or a nurse at your doctor’s office may be able to assist you.

  • Alternate fingers – Always testing on the same finger is likely to cause calluses and scar tissue. Trying to poke through either of these may lead to unnecessary pain.

  • Don’t reuse lancets – An unfortunate reality of diabetes is that lancets are expensive. However, reusing lancets not only leads to an increased likelihood of infection and false readings, which may cause serious far-reaching problems. Short term, lancets will lose their sharpness, make the process of pricking a finger more painful.


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