You need to prick your finger to obtain a drop of blood for home blood-glucose monitoring.
Does it hurt? Some people say yes, but they've gotten used to it. Others say they find it virtually painless.
Only you can decide. But here are 7 tried-and-true methods for making it less painful.
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Find out what works for you
When Nancy Chiller Janow, age 54, was first diagnosed with type 2, her endocrinologist "punctured me so hard in the middle of the finger pad, that I never wanted to test again," she says. "It really hurt."
Janow's internist recommended she experiment to find a more comfortable spot. "I did and finally found that testing on the side of the pad, close to the nail, is the most comfortable," she says. "I often use my thumb. Maybe because that's more callused, it's more comfortable and doesn't hurt when I stick it."
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Avoid pricking the finger’s tip
This part of the finger is especially sensitive and can be more painful than other parts of your finger. Aim for the side of your finger. Fingertips are a poor choice because they tend to have more nerve endings, says Nadine Uplinger, director of the Gutman Diabetes Institute at Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia.
"We teach people to monitor on the sides of their fingers, not down by the knuckle but up by the nail bed on the fleshy part and not on the tips," she says. "Another thing to do is pinch or put pressure on where you're going to test to seal it and that seems to minimize pain."
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Don’t use alcohol to sterilize your finger
"Alcohol dries out the skin and tends to cause more cracking and pain," Uplinger says.
Instead, wash your finger in warm water.
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Vary the fingers you use
Pick an easy-to-remember pattern to make sure you’re not using the same site over and over again.
If your finger is sore, don’t use it for testing until it heals.
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Don’t reuse equipment
Know how to use your equipment properly, and use a new lancet each time you check.
Lancets can get dull if they are used multiple times, resulting in a more painful prick.
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Try not to squeeze blood from the fingertip
If you've pricked your finger and still don’t have enough blood to do the test, hang your hand down below the waist for five seconds.
If necessary, you can gently squeeze your finger beginning at the base (near the hand) and move outward. Try not to squeeze your fingertip!
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Find the right blood-glucose monitor
Some blood-glucose monitors require much less blood than others; consider investing in a new model if you routinely have trouble obtaining enough blood.
Others allow you to use blood obtained from places other than the fingers, such as the arm.
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