How To Use Blood Glucose Monitors And Tips To Buy A Glucometer

step-by-step guide to use a glucometer

If you are suffering from diabetes then blood glucose monitors are a must to monitor your glucose level. It can help you to prevent a diabetic emergency when the levels fall too low or surge too high. Moreover, it can help your doctor to know how well the diabetes medicines and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are helping you to control diabetes. But before you invest in a glucometer, here are few things you need to know.

How do you use a glucometer: step-by-step guide?

It is important to follow a step-by-step routine when testing your blood glucose at home to prevent infection, avoid false results and monitor diabetes. Here’s how to test your blood sugar:

-The first step is to wash your hands with soap and water, pat it dry with a towel. You can also use an alcohol swab before testing but ensure the fingertip is completely dry before you test.

-Remove the diabetes test strip from the box of strips. Insert it into the slot on the glucometer just before you prick your finger. So it will be easy to add blood sample onto the strip and get the results. (However, in some glucometers, you have to put a blood sample first on the strip and then insert it into the machine. So read the instructions on the glucometer beforehand)

-Use a clean lancet (a device that holds the needle) or insert a clean needle in the lancet, which can help you to prick the end of your finger.

-Prick the side of your fingertip and wait till blood oozes out. Wipe off the first drop gently and then put a drop or two onto the designated place on a test strip attached to the glucometer. Ensure that your skin is not in contact with the test strip. This is because any residue of food or medicines left on the fingers can impact the test results.

-Hold a clean cotton pad or gauze on the prick site to stop blood flow. Apply pressure on the area of the insertion until the bleeding stops.

Repeat this procedure every time you test your blood glucose level.

How do blood glucose monitors work?

The diabetes devices or glucometers test the amount of glucose in the blood. The test strips present in glucometers contain an enzyme glucose oxidase, which reacts with glucose in the blood and sends the result as an electronic signal, which is displayed on the monitor.

How often should you test your blood glucose with a glucometer?

If you have type 1 diabetes, you may need to check your blood glucose levels several times a day such as pre and post meals and before and after exercise or as adviced by your doctor. For people with type 2 diabetes, it might be based on the severity of the condition which can be several times a day, once a day or thrice a week. Hence, talk to your doctor about how often you should test your blood glucose.

What is a normal glucometer reading?

According to the American Diabetes Association, the fasting or preprandial blood glucose levels for diabetics should be between 80 – 130 mg/dl and postprandial (1-2 hours after meals) should be less than 180 mg/dl. However, the range mentioned in your glucose monitor may be a little different. So you need to speak to your doctor to calibrate the results with your lab reports.

How to choose a blood glucose monitor?

There are many blood glucose monitors available in the market and picking the right one that suits your budget and fits your needs is challenging. However, there are few basic features that you need to look in a glucometer such as the amount of the blood needed for testing, how simple it is to use, how it stores the results and based on your requirements you can also look for devices that are portable or that sync the results with your smartphone.

If it is being handled by a senior citizen, buy one where the display is large enough to read easily.

If the cost is a factor, the check for the price of refills of lancets and strips. In the long run that may prove to be more expensive than the one-time fixed cost of the device itself

When in doubt, the best person to ask is your doctor who can guide you based on your requirements. Here are some of the blood glucose monitors you can choose from!

What are the benefits of glucometers?

It is well known that testing blood glucose levels with a glucometer at home is one of the best ways to manage diabetes. In addition to this, there are several advantages of using a blood glucose monitor such as:

-It can help you to test your blood glucose at any time of the day and anywhere.

-Use of portable glucometer is best to test glucose when traveling.

-Charting of blood glucose levels becomes easy with glucometers especially with devices having memory options to store previous readings

-By helping you to keep your blood glucose level in check, blood glucose monitors can help you manage diabetes better. It helps your doctor prescribe the correct medication and in turn prevent complications such as diabetic nephropathy, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic foot, diabetic neuropathy, and diabetic shock.

Why is glucometer reading high as compared to lab results?

A glucometer is a medical device that helps to measure the approximate concentration of glucose level in the blood. In spite of its ease of utility, it has several drawbacks and errors. One of the major drawbacks is an inaccuracy. There are several reasons that could give you inaccurate or higher readings on a glucometer:

Unclean hands may give inaccurate results.

Unclean meter or touching the sensor with bare hands while testing can give higher readings.

-All glucometers require the optimal temperature to work, if there is a difference in temperature between optimal temperature and temperature while operating the device, there will be an alteration of the readings.

-If the blood drop is insufficient to give the results or if too much of blood is used.

-If you are using different meters every time, as different meters will have different error percentile.

Apart from this, even with all the care, there is certain percentile difference, and this difference is attributed to different collection patterns of blood. The blood used for lab testing is venous blood, while the blood used in glucometer is capillary blood and there is a difference in glucose level of venous blood and capillary blood.Thus, readings from glucometer vary from that of laboratory reading. In this case, you should rely on the results from lab since they are performed more accurately.

(The article is verified by Dr. Ajay Aggarwal, Director, Department of Endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, Delhi and Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)

Recommended reads:

How to choose a glucometer that is right for you

Diabetes Diet: Top 5 Food Tips To Prevent And Manage Type 2 Diabetes

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