How to Get the Most Accurate Results from Your Blood Glucose Meter

Many people struggling with diabetes are intimidated by having to use a blood glucose meter and getting accurate results.

Wanting to get laboratory-level accuracy with a blood glucose meter at home is understandable. However, getting this kind of accuracy would imply using much more complicated technology, which would make meters exceptionally more expensive. What many people don't realize is that there are simple techniques and tricks that will make getting accurate results easier.

Preparing to Test

Before testing, consider taking a few extra steps to increase the likelihood of accurate readings:

  1. Wash your hands before handling your meter. If you are not in the habit of washing your hands before testing your blood glucose levels, consider that even small amounts of food or drinks, or even traces of lotion, can affect your meter reading. Wash your hands with soap and try to dry them completely before every finger prick.
  2. Read instructions and specifications. Although this may seem obvious, many things can go wrong if you do not follow instructions. Always make sure that your meter and your testing trips will work together. Test strips may look alike, but they are not all the same. Often, test strips have very specific chemical coatings and sizes, and it is important to know which strips will work with your meter.
  3. Take care of your strips. On occasion, mishandled test strips can cause errors. Studies have found that test strips hold up for a longer period of time, about 35 to 50 days, if they are kept refrigerated. Similarly, test strips can go bad quickly when stored under direct light or in humidity. Remember that your pocket, wallet, and car are not safe places to store your test strips.
  4. Keep your meter clean. Many people do not consider that in order to get accurate results, it is also necessary to test the functionality of the meter regularly. In order to test your meter's accuracy, you must use control solution. Control solution is a liquid with a known amount of glucose. By using this control solution, you can make sure your meter and strips are performing together as they should. Testing is easy: simply squeeze a drop of solution on your clean hand and touch the strip to it. Most meters come with control solution, and it can also be purchased at most drugstores and pharmacies.

Learning to Read the Results

It can be easy to make mistakes when testing your blood glucose levels, but knowing what to look out for and what can go wrong can help you avoid a panic. If you feel like the reading you get the first time you test is not what you expected, and you can't explain it based on your food intake, exercise or stress levels, test again. Try to test near the same site and make sure to saturate the test strip completely; sometimes too little blood can throw off the reading. If the numbers from your first and second test vary greatly, test a third time.

Keep in mind that one of your hands will always test at a higher number than the other. The difference will not be major, but this will always be true. Try to match your readings with your lab results. It can help to take the blood glucose meter along when you visit your doctor or have an appointment for lab work. Check your blood glucose with your meter at the same time that blood is drawn for lab tests. This will allow you to compare your meter's reading with your lab results. Remember that your meter's reading is considered accurate if it falls within 15 percent of the lab test result.

Sources: FDA and DiabetesForecast

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