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The Finger Stick Test

Diabetes Home

Diabetes Prevention and Control Program
275 East Main Street
Frankfort, KY  40621
(502) 564-7996


The Finger-Stick Test: For Testing Your Own Blood Sugar Using A Blood Glucose Meter

A finger-stick test is a simple test you can do using a blood glucose meter to check changes in your own blood sugar (glucose). The finger-stick test tells you what your blood sugar is at the time you test.

Self-testing helps you see how food, physical activity, and diabetes medicine affect your blood sugar. The readings you get from these tests can help you manage your diabetes day by day or even hour by hour. Keep a record of your test results and review it with your health care provider.

Ideal goals for most non-pregnant adults with diabetes when self-testing using a blood glucose meter are:

Preprandial (before eating) capillary plasma glucose - 70-130 mg/dl

Peak postprandial (after eating) capillary plasma glucose - less than 180 mg/dl (Peak postprandial glucose testing should be performed 1-2 hours after the beginning of a meal)

Your blood sugar goals may be different from these ideal goals. Ask your health care provider what goals are best for you.

Things to consider in setting your blood glucose goals:

  • A1C is the primary target for blood glucose control
  • Goals should be individualized based on:
    • Length of time that you have had diabetes
    • Age/life expectancy
    • Presence of other conditions or complications
    • Known cardiovascular disease or advanced microvascular complications
    • Hypoglycemia unawareness
    • Individual considerations
  • More or less stringent blood glucose goals may be appropriate for some patients
  • Postprandial glucose may be targeted if A1C goals are not met despite reaching preprandial glucose goals.

 You should also check your blood sugar when you experience signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  Signs of hypoglycemia may include fast heartbeat, feeling shaky, anxious, or dizzy, having numbness or tingling around the lips or fingertips, being sweaty, hungry, tired, and/or weak, and having a headache. You may not have all of the symptoms or you may have some different ones and they may vary from one episode to the next. 

If you test your own blood sugar using a blood glucose meter, you still need the A1C test.  The results of each test will tell you and your health care provider whether your blood sugar is under control. Talk to your health care provider about how often you need each test. 

For more information on the finger-stick test and the A1C test, refer to the National Diabetes Education Program's brochure If You Have Diabetes, Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers.


Last Updated 2/27/2014