Do you test your blood sugars in public?

by Mark Benson on November 16, 2012

Do you test your blood sugars in public?

For many diabetics the daily chore of testing their blood sugars is not something they would like to share with the general public but there are occasions when you may well be out and about when a test is due. This has prompted a very interesting discussion on the with many sufferers conveying their thoughts and feelings about testing in public. While it is most certainly something which will become more commonplace as the number of diabetics continues to rise, it is an interesting discussion.

We will now take a look at the various angles from which this activity can be viewed and perhaps try and look at why some people feel the need to comment upon diabetics testing themselves in public and what diabetics themselves actually think.

Keeping control of your blood sugar level

One of the main activities with regards to diabetes is regular testing of blood throughout the day to keep a very close eye on blood sugar levels. There are a number of advisory notes available from the various diabetic charities which offer some form of guidance with regards to “normal” blood sugar levels for those without diabetes, those with diabetes type I and those with diabetes type II. These guidance notes will give you an indication of what your blood sugar level should be at rest, prior to meals and just after meals. It is also worth noting that vigourous exercise can also impact upon your blood sugar level which is why many diabetics do need to test on a regular basis throughout the day.

Testing in public

For some reason a number of non-diabetics have commented upon diabetics testing their blood in public when in reality no diabetic would choose to do their testing in public and this is out of necessity not choice. But why do so many members of the public seem to be against this particular activity?

Fear of blood

It seems as though one of the major problems with regards to diabetics testing in public is directly linked to many people having a fear of blood and concerns regarding hygiene and cleanliness. The fact that diabetics are very used to testing themselves on a regular basis and have this particular activity down to an art form does not seem to impact the general public’s opinion and concerns.

While there are obviously issues regarding blood the vast majority of diabetics are so used to testing themselves that the activity is very quick and the cleaning process is almost instant. Perhaps concerns regarding diseases such as HIV are at the forefront of the minds of many members of the public but in reality the risk is minimal. There are some people who have a genuine phobia of blood and indeed we often hear about some people collapsing at the sight of blood. The reality is that if a diabetic needs to test themselves then they need to do it literally where ever they are.

Thinking the worst

The vast majority of non-diabetics who see a diabetic testing themselves in public would probably think the worst and assume that they had some very dangerous and highly contagious disease. Even though the number of diabetics across the world has increased dramatically over the last decade, and will increase yet further in the short, medium and longer term, many people automatically think the worst. Whether or not the vast majority of diabetics are “brave enough” to inform members of the public what they are doing, if they show genuine concern, is a choice for them but many choose to go about their everyday business with minimal fuss.

You will see people physically pulling away if a diabetic is forced to test themselves in public, you will see people talking and pointing but perhaps this is due to a lack of education for non-sufferers?

Take no chances

The reality is that if a diabetic needs to test their blood sugar level then they will need to do it wherever they are. If they were to put off any such test until they were perhaps back home or in a more comfortable environment there is the chance of putting their health at risk if a dangerous blood sugar level was not addressed immediately. So while many members of the public may turn their noses up at people testing in public, they may have concerns about blood and hygiene the reality is that the risk is minimal, if any, and what needs to be done should be done as soon as possible.

How do you handle public complaints?

While many members of the public may look and possibly talk about a diabetic carrying out their blood sugar test in public the vast majority would not have the nerve to say anything. Unfortunately there are exceptions to this rule and sometimes it is advisable to be prepared in case any uncomfortable questions are asked. If you simply maintain your cool, explain that you need to test your blood sugar level because of your diabetes this will likely be enough for the vast majority of people to stop looking and stop talking about you. However, others may well be a little more vocal!

It is worth remembering that you are doing nothing wrong, you are doing nothing illegal and while many of these concerns centre around the issue of blood in the open air, is it really any different to somebody smoking in public, somebody using a walking aid to help them or indeed somebody taking a tablet for medical purposes?


The sad thing is that many members of the public will point and will quietly talk about individuals carrying out their blood sugar tests in public and some may even confront you about hygiene, cleanliness and whether in fact you should be doing that in public. In many ways this is down to ignorance and a lack of education with regards to diabetes and while some diabetics may feel uncomfortable with such episodes, why should they?

Perhaps it may be an idea to list some of the better replies given to those who have confronted diabetics carrying out their blood sugar tests in public. This may give other sufferers ideas about how to handle what can be an uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing confrontation.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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