Application Equals Precision
Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels is relatively straightforward once you’re used to it. Still, some aspects require a degree of precision for the test results to be as accurate and clear as possible.
A few precautions
• Refer to your glucose meter’s operating instructions to make sure you use it as recommended.
• Take note of your equipment’s expiry date.
• Store your glucose meter and test strips at room temperature in a dry place.
• Make sure you have the right test strips for your glucose meter.
• Before testing, wash your hands with soapy water and dry them thoroughly. If you’re drawing blood from somewhere other than your fingertips, clean your skin in that area as well.
• The drop of blood used should be large enough. If you don’t use enough blood on your first try, don’t add any more blood after the first drop has been applied to the test strip. Instead, draw another drop and place it on a new strip.
It is also recommended to check the accuracy of your glucose meter every year by comparing the results of your own fasting blood glucose tests with those done in a lab. Consult a health care professional to learn more about the acceptable gap between the two.
Causes of inaccuracy
Do you usually test your blood glucose by getting blood from your palm, forearm, thigh or calf? This means the result will be less accurate if you’re experiencing a situation where your blood glucose level can change quickly, such as when:
You’ve just taken insulin.
You’re going through an episode of hypoglycemia.
You’ve just eaten or exercised.
You’re feeling stressed.
In those cases, it is best to take blood from your fingertips so that your meter can provide the most accurate numbers possible.
Also note that the test results may be less reliable if you are dehydrated or anemic.
Not everyone knows this, but it’s actually important to calibrate (or code) your glucose meter to make sure you get reliable test results. Depending on the type of device you’re using, the calibration will be done manually or automatically.
Don’t neglect this step! If your glucose meter is incorrectly calibrated, your medication may be improperly adjusted, and your physician could make incorrect recommendations based on false data. It goes without saying that mismanaging your blood glucose can have serious consequences for your health.
Note that some models are calibrated at the time of manufacturing, which obviously makes the process simpler and saves you time. Read your glucose meter’s instructions on the topic carefully.
Because of habit or hurriedness, people sometimes skip a step of the blood glucose test, but remember that you have everything to gain by applying yourself—in both the short and long term!
Accu-Chek, “Calibration définitive des lecteurs de glycémie de la gamme Accu-Chek® Performa”: https://www.accu-chek.fr/fr/salledepresse/calibration-definitive.html. Accessed February 15, 2017.
Diabetes Québec, “Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose”: http://www.diabete.qc.ca/en/living-with-diabetes/care-and-treatment/self-control/self-monitoring-of-blood-glucose. Accessed February 15, 2017.
Diabetes.co.uk, “Blood Glucose Meter Accuracy”: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/blood-glucose-meters/blood-glucose-meter-accuracy.html. Accessed February 15, 2017.
Jean Coutu, “Why do you need to code your blood glucose meter?”: https://www.jeancoutu.com/en/health/health-tips/why-do-you-need-to-code-your-blood-glucose-meter/. Accessed February 15, 2017.
Regina Castro, M.D., “Sometimes my blood glucose monitor seems to give incorrect readings. What can I do to make sure the measurement is accurate?”: Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/blood-glucose-monitors/faq-20057902. Accessed February 15, 2017.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “Blood Glucose Monitoring Devices”: https://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/InVitroDiagnostics/GlucoseTestingDevices/default.htm. Accessed February 15, 2017.