Diabetes Glucose Test Side Effects and Complications

Diabetes Glucose Test Side Effects and Complications
Page content

Diabetes Glucose Tests

There are a few different types of glucose tests that are done to check for diabetes and to monitor the effects of the treatment of diabetes on blood glucose levels. These include the random blood sugar (taken at any time), 2 hour postprandial blood sugar (taken 2 hours after eating), fasting blood sugar (taken at least 8 hours after eating), and oral glucose tolerance test (taken after drinking a sweet liquid). Below are possible diabetes glucose test side effects and their possible complications.

Side Effects and Complications

Needle Stick

All tests involve at least one needle stick to draw the blood from to measure glucose levels.

When drawing the blood, a tourniquet is wrapped around the upper arm to make collecting the blood easier. To some this may feel tight but the length of time it stays on is minimal. The needle stick may feel like a quick sting or pinch but should not be painful, as long as the person drawing the blood is not digging around searching for the vein.

Some people may feel faint at the sight of blood but this can usually be prevented by not watching as they perform the test.

Bruising at the puncture site may occur. Some people bruise more easily than others. Holding pressure over the site for several minutes after the blood is drawn can help reduce bruising.

Continued bleeding from the puncture site, despite holding pressure over the site, can be a problem, especially if the person has a bleeding disorder or is taking blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin or aspirin.

Phlebitis, or inflammation of the vein, is another possible side effect from a needle stick, but this is rare. Symptoms include pain, tenderness, redness and swelling at the site of insertion. Normally, this problem can be treated with a warm compress applied to the affected area several times a day.


The fasting blood sugar test requires at least 8 hours of fasting, with nothing to eat or drink except water, and is usually done early in the morning. Most people will be able to sleep during the fasting period and have no problems. However, there is the possibility of hypoglycemia, especially with diabetics or if the test is delayed for any reason. Signs of hypoglycemia include dizziness, feeling shaky, headache, irritability, weakness, sweating, and confusion.

Sweet Liquid

The oral glucose tolerance test involves drinking a sweet liquid that tastes similar to a very sweet soda pop. The person has to drink the entire portion in five minutes. Some people may feel nauseated or even vomit after drinking it. If the person does vomit soon after drinking it, the test will have to be repeated at another time.

Finger Pricks

Most diabetics check their blood glucose levels several times per day by pricking their finger to get a drop of blood for their glucose meter. Over a period of time, the tips of a diabetic’s fingers can become very sensitive, tough and numb. Some glucose meters are now on the market that can use blood from the forearm to alleviate the burden on the fingertips.

Diabetes glucose test side effects and complications are not very common but if they do occur, inform your health care provider.

Sources Used

Web MD: Blood Glucose - https://diabetes.webmd.com/blood-glucose

Baby Center: Glucose screening and glucose tolerance tests - https://www.babycenter.com/0_glucose-screening-and-glucose-tolerance-tests_1483.bc

Photo Credit

Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DrawingBloodUnitedStatesVacutainer.jpg