Where on my body can I do the diabetes test?

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Many meters are FDA approved for “alternate site” testing, commonly on the forearm. The idea is that this type of testing is less painful than lancing fingertips.

However, they are not approved by yours truly.   :-(

And to explain why, we have to talk about cops. It used to be that when police cadets were trained to use their guns they lined up in a nice neat row, standing straight and tall, drew their pistols, and fired at paper targets. They were taught to “pocket” their expended cartridges when reloading to keep the shooting range nice and neat.

Or at least that’s how they were trained up until a notorious shootout about three decades ago when an armed felon gunned down four cops. One of the deceased was found with empty shells in his pocket. In a life and death shoot out he seemly took time to put his expended cartridges in his pocket; a delay that may well have cost him his life.

In the aftermath of the incident, studies of how people react under stress were undertaken in earnest. It turns out that when the you-know-what hits the fan people fall back on their training and habits. Even when they should know better.

Now, strange bit of blood sugar trivia. The blood in the tips of your fingers carries the most accurate and up-to-date information. Blood sugar in your forearm is old news, sometimes as much as 20 minutes out-of-date. If you use alternate sites to test your blood sugar, you are getting old news. Much of the time this does not matter.

Unless your blood sugar is dropping quickly, which can possibly be life threatening. The folks that make the meters will warn you not to test on your arm if you suspect you are dropping, but guess what? Under stress, with dropping blood sugar (which tends to make us less mentally sharp anyway), what do you think you are going to do? Yep.

You’ll resort to your training. Your ingrained habits. My feeling is, don’t get into bad habits under sunny skies and you won’t resort to them in stormy weather. You don’t want to be putting shell casings in your pocket when a low blood sugar is gunning for you.
Tonya Bolden
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
With a variety of meters on the market, strips needing less blood, and lancets that don’t feel like a needle through your fingers, testing has really gotten so much better. You can test on the fleshy part of your palm, your forearm, as well as your fingertips.
Half the Mother, Twice the Love: My Journey to Better Health with Diabetes

More About this Book

Half the Mother, Twice the Love: My Journey to Better Health with Diabetes

As a talk-show host and inspirational speaker, Mother Love used to have to just grin and bear it -- all that extra weight and the poor health that went along with it. Today she can truly smile as she...

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.