Metabolic Health

Determining the Accuracy of Your Glucose Meter - Sugar.Fit

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Determining the Accuracy of Your Glucose Meter

With the lifestyle parameters and health conditions taking a turn for the worse, these medical issues are only seeming to be on the rise. Diabetes is one of the most prevalent conditions in India and across the world at the moment. Both, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are increasingly common in today’s times. Type 1 diabetes usually happens anytime between birth till about the teenage years, however, there are a few outliers and circumstances in which people are also getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes even in their 20s. This makes the condition seem even more unpredictable and dangerous.
 

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is more lifestyle-oriented and is prevalent among the older generation above the age of 35-40 years. Since it is affected by one’s lifestyle patterns and habits, it is affected by daily things like diet, exercise, stress, sleep, etc. 

The pancreas is affected and it does not produce enough insulin (T1D), or the body is unable to use the insulin (T2D). How diabetes affects an individual is that it increases the blood sugar levels in one’s body due to the lack of insulin produced naturally. When the blood sugars in the body, blood, and urine are on the higher side, it can cause several different, many irreparable, damages to several organs and parts.  It is, therefore, a serious condition.

Diabetes is all about monitoring the blood sugars to make sure to keep them in check. A sugar testing meter, called the glucometer, is used to do so. Any person diagnosed with diabetes would have to purchase this glucometer to be able to effectively test their sugars every day. An important aspect of this would be for the glucometer to be accurate. Imagine testing your sugars every day and realizing that the parameter was faulty in the first place. How much damage could that cause mentally and even physically!

Determining the Accuracy of Your Glucose Meter

Now that it is understood that checking sugars regularly is important and the way to do so would be to use a glucometer, the next logical step would be to ensure that there are no glitches in the glucometer that would result in incorrect readings and eventual incorrect methods of treatment. The most crucial step in the effective and optimal management of diabetes is to check the sugar levels. Even if you have bought a glucometer that is new and unused, it can still have certain glitches, after all, it is a machine. How to check the accuracy of the glucose meter? would then become the first step once it is bought.

There are several methods that one can use to calibrate their respective glucometers. One of the surest ways would be to check it with a laboratory reading. How this can be done is that on the days you are getting your blood tests done, along with HbA1c, also get the fasting sugar tested. At the same moment when the lab technician draws your blood, you can use your device to test your sugar level in real-time to test the glucose meter accuracy against the numbers at the lab. This method can be used once every three months when you check your HbA1c levels. Expect a discrepancy of 20-30mg/dL units within the range of the glucose levels.

You can also check the accuracy of your meter against another glucometer. You can opt to choose this method as often as you would like to make sure that there are no issues with your daily readings that might lead to incorrect insulin doses.

Factors That Can Affect Glucose Meter Accuracy

The companies that manufacture and sell a sugar testing meter have to be reliable and genuine. They need to have all the approvals and meet the guidelines set by the ADA and ISO. Regular quality checks need to happen in these companies to take care of the efficiency and safety of the products. There are different organizations in different countries that take charge of this aspect. 

Regarding sugar testing at home for people with diabetes, there are a few factors that can play a key role in affecting the accuracy of a glucometer.

  1. Test strips – The test strips work with the help of an interaction of the blood with the enzymes in the strip. This interaction releases electrons that create an electrical current which converts the concentration of the body’s glucose to provide a reading. The test strips are highly sensitive and can be affected by – damage or expiration, heat or moisture, not enough blood, oil, lotion, food particles, etc. Ensure that they are always in an airtight container 
  2. Environmental conditions – Temperature and humidity can affect the test strips and can cause a decrease in the enzyme activity, and therefore, the accuracy of the results. Even the body temperature and altitude conditions can alter the glucose readings. Even though you have the answer to the question “how do I know if my glucose meter is accurate?”, environmental factors may play a role
  3. Skin – If there are substances on the skin like – dirt, oil, lotion, and even water, it may result in an inaccurate reading. Wash your hands well and dry them before you test your sugars at home.
  4. Amount of blood – The test strip requires a certain amount of blood to be present for the reaction to take place. Avoid directly squeezing to take out more blood and use a different lancet as much as you can
  5. Testing site – Certain areas in the body like forearms, thighs, etc may not always give an accurate result due to the physiological differences in blood circulation to different areas. Fingertips would be the best site to test blood sugars using a glucometer at home.

Ways to measure blood sugars

You can use several different methods to test your blood sugars depending on the need, your HbA1c, recommendation from the doctor, your insurance coverage, etc. 

  1. Home glucometers – Use your fingertips to draw some blood and test the blood sugar level at a given time. Use it frequently as this is your armor against any further complications due to high blood sugars
  2. Lab tests – Every three months, make sure to get your HbA1c levels tested to understand how well you can control your diabetes. In case of a high HbA1c, you will have to change your dose accordingly.
  3. CGM devices – Once every 6 months, you can use a CGM device that will check your sugar 24/7 every couple of minutes and will give you a graphical representation of your sugars throughout the day and even at night. This technology works very well with the insulin pump as you can calibrate your readings and change your basal.
  4. Urine analysis, if needed

These are the main methods that people most commonly use to test their blood sugars. 

Bottomline

Checking blood sugars is one of the most vital parts of diabetes management. Having an accurate glucometer to do so would be the tool that is required. Make sure you are testing your levels regularly and accurately by keeping in mind the factors that may affect the reading if you are using a home testing meter. This will avoid any wrong readings.

FAQs

What can cause a false high glucose reading?

A false high can be caused in case the test strip is contaminated or the blood is diluted with water. Environmental conditions like altitude and moisture can also affect these readings.

Does squeezing the finger affect blood sugar reading?

Yes, at times, squeezing the finger right around the prick and blood site may affect the readings as it may contaminate the blood. Fresh lancets and rubbing the finger to activate blood circulation before you prick the tip would be a good way to avoid squeezing. 

Which finger should be used for glucose testing?

You can use any finger of each hand to test. Make sure to alternate between the fingers as repeated pricks on one finger can cause injury. You can avoid the index finger as it is the most used one and may at times, pain upon repeated pricks.

How to use a home glucose meter?

Start the home testing meter by inserting the batteries. Next, buy the correct strips for the glucometer and insert one into the glucometer. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly and use a fresh lancet for the pricker. Rub one of your fingers for increased blood circulation and prick the tip of the finger. When an appropriate amount of blood is drawn, touch the blood to the end of the strip and clean your finger. The strip will absorb the blood and give you the glucose level reading in a few seconds. 

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