Blood glucose monitoring

Alternative names 
Glucose monitoring; Random glucose; Glucose - random; Serum glucose - random

Blood glucose monitoring is a measurement of glucose in the blood that can be done at any time on a portable machine. It can be a self-test for the diabetic.

How the test is performed

The finger is pricked and a drop of blood is put on a reagent strip, which uses a chemical substance to react to the amount of glucose in the blood. The meter then reads the strip and displays the results as a number on a digital display. Newer monitors can use blood from other areas of the body besides the fingers, reducing discomfort.

How to prepare for the test
Have all test items within reach before starting - timing is important. Clean the area with soap and water or an alcohol swab. The area needs to be completely dry before pricking.

Infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

  • Infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)  
  • Toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)  
  • Preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)  
  • Schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)  
  • Adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel
There is a sharp prick.

Why the test is performed
The test allows the diabetic to carefully monitor blood glucose levels to assure that they are within the normal range. The individual can then respond quickly to high or low blood sugar levels (diabetes or hypoglycemia) with appropriate intervention.

This test can also be a screening test for blood glucose levels.

Normal Values
Range from 60 to 140 milligrams per deciliter but can vary depending on physical activity, meals, and insulin administration. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories.

What abnormal results mean
If levels are too low, the person is in a state of hypoglycemia. Food should be eaten, and the individual may need to alter the next insulin dose and possibly future insulin doses as well.

If levels are too high, the person is hyperglycemic, and may need additional insulin.

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

What the risks are
There is a slight chance of infection at the puncture site. A small amount of bleeding may occur after the puncture.

Special considerations
The correct procedure must be followed or the results will not be accurate.

Abnormal results, particularly in a person not known to be diabetic, may indicate a need to obtain a fasting blood glucose or a glucose tolerance test. Consult the health care provider.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Sharon M. Smith, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.