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Do You Have Diabetes? How To Test At Home!

Updated on April 3, 2017

Diabetic And Unaware

There are millions of undiagnosed diabetics in the United States alone. You could be one of them. I have had diabetes for awhile, but have only known for the past two years. It's a disease that's hard to catch because it sneaks up on you and it's symptoms could easily be mistaken for something else. People like me, who have a family history of diabetes (both my parents have it), need to constantly monitor themselves for the disease. This can add up to a lot of money in medical bills if you see the doctor each time.

But it's possible to diagnose yourself at home and it's almost your responsibility to do so. Doctors don't test everyone for diabetes all the time and they didn't notice my diabetes until I pointed it out to them.

By the time I was able to diagnose myself with diabetes from home, I was so tired, I could barely get out of bed and was already suffering from diabetic complications. Don't let the same happen to you.

Even if you aren't overweight and you're young, you are at risk, especially if you have a family with a history of diabetes. Diabetes is not something you catch because you ate too much sugar, it's something that can happen to anyone at any time, so it's best to check every few years and see how you are doing.

If you don't have the time or money to see a doctor, you can test at home and it's easier than you think! Diabetics test their own blood sugar all the time.

Step One: Symptoms

If you have a family history of diabetes, you should check your blood sugar automatically every year or two to see how you are doing. It doesn't matter whether or not you have symptoms, diabetic symptoms are usually either mild or non-existence, especially in the beginning.

You do not need to have all these symptoms to have diabetes.

SYMPTOMS:

  • Excessive Thirst - A lot of people think a 16 ounce bottle of water is a lot to drink. I've gulped these down before in three sips. Your body will crave water if you have high blood sugar
  • Blurry Vision - I have blurry vision all the time. Not because I am diabetic, but because I don't have 20/20 vision and need glasses. There are times, in the mornings, where I've woken up and rubbed my eyes. Even with my glasses on, one or both of my eyes will be blurry. If you can correct the blurriness with glasses or contacts, then that's not what diabetic blurry vision is.
  • Exhaustion - At my worst, I could barely write or get out of the bed. I was falling behind in all my responsibilities. But sometimes the tiredness isn't as obvious, maybe you have trouble waking up in the morning or you start sleeping an extra hour or you need to drink coffee to get going in the morning. People naturally get more tired as they age, but it could also be diabetes.
  • Strange Smelling Urine Or Breath - My urine had a strange moldy smell before I was diagnosed. I remember looking it up and finding out it was a symptom of diabetes. Some people say that their breath or urine smells like sugar on the other hand.
  • Urinating A Lot - This probably goes along with all the extra drinking you are doing. Your body is trying to rid itself of the excessive blood sugar in any way possible, so it will make you go to the bathroom more, so it can try to use the extra water to get the sugar out.
  • Slow To Heal - If bruises and cuts take longer to heal for you compared to the average person, if you don't get over colds in a couple of days, this could be a symptom of diabetes.
  • Numbness In Your Hands, Feet, Or Legs - Something I noticed years before I was diagnosed with diabetes is the fact that my left leg felt numb and funny whenever I tried to shave it in the shower. This has never gone away.
  • Feeling Shaky and Sick When You Skip A Meal - This can either be a sign of diabetes, pre-diabetes, or hypoglycemia. When people skip meals, they might feel hungry and a little cranky, but if it's so bad that you have trouble controlling you temper and you feel shaky, sick, and like you could pass out, it might be the fact that your blood sugar is unstable.
  • Feeling Nauseous and Hating Food - When your blood sugar is really high, food can seem disgusting to you. Your body realizes that your blood sugar is high and encourages you to stop eating until it can bring the numbers back down.
  • Losing Weight - This is mostly a symptom in type 1 diabetes.

It's Important That Every Diabetic Has A Lancing Device To Draw The Blood They Want To Test With

A Picture Of My Blood Sugar Machine

A picture of my blood sugar machine and lancing device.
A picture of my blood sugar machine and lancing device.

Step Two: Purchasing A Machine

Most people will tell you at this point to go see a doctor. You can choose to do that if you're really worried, but it's not necessary yet.

Unlike most diseases, blood sugar machines are readily available for purchase at any drug store and this is a test you can easily take at home.

Some machines are more expensive and harder to get than others. Here's the steps to finding the best machine for the cheapest price possible:

  1. Go to your local drugstore. I usually go to Walmart because it has a larger diabetic section than most places.
  2. Look at the machines available in the diabetic section. This section is usually located either in front of or neat the pharmacy.
  3. Find a cheap brand of machine. They work just as well as the more expensive machines. I use the brand Relion. They have a variety of different machines you can choose from. Pick out a machine and memorize the brand and type. You will need this information later.
  4. Find the testing strips (these are always sold separately) that go with the machine. If they are not near the machines, then ask the pharmacist. A lot of test strips are kept in the back. You will need to know the brand and type of machine in order to purchase the correct ones.
  5. Read the back of the package of your machine to make sure it comes with a lancing device. If it doesn't say, then peak inside the package and see. A lancing device will look similar to a fat pen and it will be the only thing that comes with your machine besides the machine itself and possibly a carrying case. If there is no lancing device, then look near the machines, there should be one available for purchase separately.
  6. Find lancets that will fit your lancing device and sterilizing, alcohol pads. You will need these things for your machine.
  7. Purchase all these things and move on to the next step.

If You Are Interested In Purchasing An Affordable Blood Sugar Machine, Just Like Mine, This Is The One You Should Get

A picture of a test strip.
A picture of a test strip.

Step Three: Using The Machine

Be patient. Testing your blood sugar will be difficult the first time around as you learn to work the machine, but it will be easy from then on.

1. Open the package your machine comes in and take the machine out. Also get out your lancing device.

2. Open your test strips. I've seen two kinds of test strips, ones that are in the barrel and ones that are loose. If you bought Relion testing strips, no matter the type of machine, they will always be loose. Insert one of the strips or the entire barrel into the machine. Here's how:

  • Barrel Testing Strips: Take them out of the package. Open the back of the machine and insert the barrel inside. Try to make sure that the little slots that the testing strips will poke through are facing down and close the machine. Press the on button. Your machine will start making a strange noise that sounds like a VHS tape rewinding. This is your machine checking that all the strips are there and putting them in the right position. Wait until this finishes. At the end, you will probably have to press the button again for one of the strips to be released for you to use. Do not pull the strip out until you are done testing.
  • Loose Testing Strips: Take one of the testing strips out of the package it's in. On one end of your strip there will be a little plastic slot. This is where your blood goes in. Put the other end inside the machine and it should automatically turn on. If not, take out the strip and press the button in the middle. That button should turn on your machine. Then reinsert the test strip.

3. Pick up your lancing device. Either twist or pull the top off of it. You will see a slot. Open the lancets and pick one of them up. This is the needle that will help you draw blood later. It will have a round piece of plastic covering the needle. Do not remove this piece of plastic yet.

Put the other end of the lancet into the slot. Make sure it fits inside securely and correctly. Then slowly twist the round plastic piece off of the lancet. You will see the needle.

Twist or push the top of your lancing device over the needle. Do not be afraid of the needle accidentally poking you. You have to turn on the trigger of the lancing device for it to poke anyone. Make sure the top is on securely.

4. There are numbers on the side of the lancing device. They probably go from 1-6. 1 means that the lancing device will poke you only gently. 6 means it will poke you very hard. You can start out on 1, but I recommend starting with 2. 1 will poke you, but probably won't allow you to draw enough blood to use on the strip. Most people need either a 2 or a 3.

Do not use the lancing device on yourself yet. You need to test it out and get used to how it works first.

Find the trigger. Usually the trigger is on the back. Sometimes you press it once to trigger the device and then a second time to poke yourself. Similar to how a pen works. While other devices have you pull on the back and use the button to poke yourself with on the side.

Try all the buttons until you figure it out. You won't see the needle stick out of the device. It goes in and out too quickly. But you will feel the force of stuff shifting inside the device once you are doing it correctly.

5. You need to figure out where you want to poke yourself to get some blood. The best places to poke yourself is the sides of your finger tips. It hurts less there than other places and will also give you enough blood to use. If you don't poke yourself hard enough the first time, you might have to repeat this process until you get enough blood.

Take one of the alcohol strips, open them, and sterilize the area you want to poke.

Trigger the lancing device, place the hole where the needle pokes through directly on the place you want to poke. You might flinch a few times before you are ready to poke yourself. This is normal for people who are doing this for the first time, but it's no big deal. The needle will be in and out of you in less than a second. It will hurt, but only mildly and the pain will be over before you register it.

Press the button to poke yourself with the lancing device. Put the device aside. It is unlikely that any blood will come out on its own. You need to squeeze the sides surrounding the spot you poked to get a droplet of blood pooling on top of your finger. Make sure the droplet is pretty big, so that there's enough to put inside the test strip. Otherwise you will have to repeat this process again.

6. Pick up the machine that should have the test strip ready and waiting. Press the test strip against your finger. The strip will automatically suck the blood inside. Look at the little plastic thing where the blood is being sucked into and make sure it fills completely with blood. If it doesn't, you will have to start over with a completely new testing strip and stab yourself again.

When it's full, your machine will either beep and/or a countdown will start on the screen. Wait for the countdown or symbol that has appeared to change. It will give you a number and that's the number of your blood sugar!

Step Four: What Do The Results Mean?

The best way to test whether you have diabetes or not is to test yourself several times a day.

  1. There's the fasting test. You test your blood sugar first thing in the morning before you've eaten anything or had anything to drink. (Both of these things can affect your test results.)
  2. You should test before a meal as well to see what your numbers are.
  3. Also test two hours after a meal, after your body has had a chance to digest it, to see the highest number your blood sugar goes to after a meal.

If you have perfect blood sugar, like my husband does, your numbers will probably be anywhere from 70-100 over the course of the day, even if you eat a giant bowl of candy, but if it's a little higher than that, it's still okay.

If your numbers are between 100 and 125 in the morning, you probably have pre-diabetes, which means you will develop full diabetes within a few years unless you make some life changes.

If you wake-up and test your blood sugar and it's higher than 125, then you have diabetes.

If your blood sugar is higher than 140 two hours after a meal, you also have diabetes.

When I tested my blood sugar, it was well into the two hundreds by that time, even in the morning.

Talking To Your Doctor About Diabetes

Have you ever talked to your doctor about diabetes?

See results

In Conclusion

Most people will tell you to only trust a doctor with diagnosing yourself with diabetes. With most diseases, this is true. Because diabetics constantly have to monitor their blood sugar, these devices are available to the public and for whatever reason, a lot of times, doctors do not diagnose people with diabetes until it's really bad. Either they don't test people or the symptoms are too subtle for anyone to think much of them and the disease goes undiagnosed for years.

I diagnosed myself. It's obvious based on the test results when you have it. No doctor ever questioned me.

Summary

  • Doctors don't always catch diabetes before there are complications.
  • You can test at home by buying a cheap blood sugar machine, lancing device, test strips, alcohol wipes, and lancets from any local drug store.
  • If your number in the morning is over 125 or your number after a meal is above 140, you have diabetes.
  • Make sure to make an appointment with a doctor immediately if your numbers concern you.

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