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Barriers to Checking Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, checking your blood sugar can be an important and common part of your care. Monitoring your blood sugar can help you maintain healthy levels, which can reduce the risk of diabetes complications.1

What are the most common barriers to checking blood sugar?

Results from our 7th Type 2 Diabetes In America survey show that 93 percent of respondents with diabetes check their own blood sugar. However, our respondents also reported barriers that keep them from checking their blood sugar more than once a week. Below, we explore the 5 most common barriers for those who do not regularly monitor their blood sugar.

I do not like the testing

Survey results show that not liking testing is the most common barrier, with 29 percent of respondents choosing this answer. Many people experience pain or discomfort from the frequent needle pricks testing requires. There are some options that may help lower the pain of testing, including:1

  • Always use a new lancet
  • Apply alcohol and fragrance-free lotion after testing
  • Rotate where you test
  • Try testing the sides of fingers, which may be less sensitive than the front
  • Warm up the area before testing with massage or washing with warm water

Choosing the right glucose monitor and lancet device can also make testing easier. It may take time to decide which devices are right for you. A lancet device that is cam-driven instead of spring-loaded may prevent tearing your skin. A lancet device where you can adjust the depth level may be less painful. Certain glucose meters may also be easier to use. This can prevent multiple pricks because of a failed test.1

I am not motivated to check

Lack of motivation was a barrier to checking blood sugar for 28 percent of respondents. It can be difficult to see any differences in your diabetes day to day if you do not check your sugar levels often. This can make it difficult to motivate yourself to check your glucose levels.2

It is natural to not feel motivated to check your blood sugar. It may help you build motivation if you feel invested in checking it. When tracking your blood sugar, you may be able to see how your diet, medicines, exercise, or stress levels impact it. This may help you feel more involved in your care.3

You could also consider talking to your doctor about your lack of motivation. They may be able to recommend things that could help like support groups. If you feel shamed by your doctor for not sticking to your treatment plan, you may want to consider another doctor. Having a supportive and understanding care team will make sticking to your care plan and treatment easier in the long run.2

I mean to but I forget

Some people need to test several times a day at different times, and it can be easy to forget. In fact, 25 percent of survey respondents shared that they intend to check their blood sugar but forget. Some tips that may help you remember to check your blood sugar include:4

  • Set alarms on your phone at the recommended testing times
  • Write a reminder in your calendar
  • Leave your testing supplies in an easy-to-see spot as a reminder to use them
  • Ask a friend or family member to remind you

My doctor did not tell me I needed to

Survey results show that 22 percent of respondents said their doctors did not tell them they needed to regularly check their blood sugar. Checking your blood sugar daily is not necessary for some people with type 2 diabetes. If you manage your diabetes without insulin or with diet and exercise alone, your doctor may not recommend regular blood sugar testing. However, it is always best to talk to your doctor about what is right for you.3

My A1C is in a healthy range

The A1C test gives information on your average blood sugar levels for the past 3 months. Our results show that 21 percent of survey respondents say they do not regularly check their blood sugar because their A1C is in a healthy range.5

An A1C in a healthy range is a sign of well-managed diabetes with lower risks of complications, and daily testing may not be necessary. Your doctor will tell you if your A1C is in a range where you do not need to check your blood sugar regularly. A safe A1C level can be different for different people.5

The 7th Type 2 Diabetes In America survey was conducted online from June through August 2020. The survey was completed by 2,282 people.

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