Home blood sugar monitoring is like a GPS for your diabetes control. It tells you exactly where your blood sugar levels are at a given point in time so that you can correct your course if needed. It also helps you to see where different paths — such as meal choices and activities — will lead you.

Why test more often?

1. You’ll make smarter choices. The more information you gain from testing, the better you’ll be able to predict how different activities, health changes, and foods affect your diabetes control. It’s easier to opt for a slice of watermelon over a slab of carrot cake if you have hard data on how that cake has spiked your blood sugar in the past.

2. You’ll be motivated to move more. Exercise is important for diabetes control, but because it takes time and effort, we often put it on the back burner. Once you see how just minutes of walking or other simple exercise lowers your blood sugar and raises your energy levels, you may find it hard to stop. Try it with a simple blood sugar test before and after light activity, and see if you don’t get hooked on the results.

3. You’ll stop an emergency before it starts. Getting sick or injured can cause your blood sugar to skyrocket. And if you take insulin or certain oral diabetes medicines, you may be at risk for dangerous blood sugar lows. By becoming familiar with how your body feels during lows and highs, and testing at the first sign of trouble, you can treat the problem before it reaches a crisis level.

4. You may just feel better. When done right, testing can improve your A1C and long-term blood sugar control. The Structured Testing Program (STeP) study found that when people with type 2 diabetes tested their blood sugar on a structured schedule (e.g., in the morning, before and after meals, at bedtime) at least three days before visiting their doctor, on average they lowered their A1C level a full percentage point. It’s important to note that the patients in the study shared their testing information with their doctor and worked together to make treatment adjustments.

5. Your healthcare provider will love you for it. By testing and tracking your blood sugar results, you provide your doctor with important data to figure out whether or not your medication is working as it should.

It's important to note that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) does not make a specific recommendation for the number of times people with type 2 diabetes who are not on insulin therapy should test. However, the ADA recognizes the value of testing to guide treatment decisions and help patients understand their diabetes. Talk to your doctor about the testing regimen that's right for you.