When you have diabetes, knowing your blood sugar levels is critical to living a healthy life. To that end, you should have an accurate glucose meter and test regularly. However, the accuracy of the results isn’t entirely dependent on the device you use — other factors can have a major impact on the testing process. To ensure you’re getting the most precise results possible, here are 14 tips to follow.
1. Store Your Supplies Properly
The environment in which supplies are stored can affect their testing capabilities. For example, heat, humidity, cold and high pressure can all negatively affect supplies. You can prevent some of these issues by storing supplies outside the bathroom (which routinely becomes hot and humid), as well as sealing items in an insulated container when traveling. The good news is, meters and strips can be used once they’re back to normal pressure, humidity, and temperature.
2. Use the Correct Test Strips
Not every brand of the test strip can be used with every glucose meter. You can get inaccurate results from using a test strip that isn’t approved for your meter.
Additionally, old test strips or strips that have been exposed to air and light may not yield correct results. You should always store strips in airtight vials and throw out any that have expired.
3. Test With Control Solution
Sometimes meters provide incorrect results because they’ve gotten old or were somehow damaged. Fortunately, you can determine if this is the case by using the control solution.
You can get a control solution at the pharmacy and apply it to a test strip just as you would a blood sample. The solution packaging will show you the readings your meter should yield. If the results don’t fall within that range, there’s something wrong with your device.
4. Use the Right Code
Some, though not all, glucose meters require coding to yield a correct reading. The code in question can be found on your test strip bottle. Whenever you open a new vial, make sure you’re entering the new code into your meter. Otherwise, you’ll end up with incorrect results.
5. Don’t Squeeze the Testing Site
When obtaining a sample, you may be tempted to squeeze the test site to get more blood. However, not only is this painful, but it can potentially contaminate the sample with interstitial fluid, which rests just under your skin. What you really want is blood from your capillaries, which is further under the surface.
6. Test on Your Fingertips
The fingertips are the recommended testing site, though many meters allow you to test on alternate sites such as the arms or palms. If you get consistent readings, this is fine. However, if you’re worried about a rapid change in your blood sugar, make sure to test on your fingertips; the fingertips are the most accurate site because blood circulation is faster there than other areas.
Of course, repeatedly testing on your fingers can be painful and lead to callouses. One way to minimize pain is to choose a different finger every time you test. Additionally, avoid pricking the pad of your finger, which has sensitive nerve endings. Instead, try testing on the very tips of your fingers, close to your nails.
7. Use the Second Drop
Even if your hands are clean, your skin has natural oils that can mix with a blood sample and influence results. If you need a precise reading, you may want to prick the site, wipe away the first drop with a clean tissue, and take the second drop. This is also a great solution to avoid contamination if you’re in a situation where you need to test but don’t have access to alcohol or hand washing.
8. Clean the Site
Before your prick your skin, make sure you’ve either washed the area with soap and water or wiped it with alcohol. This should eliminate any dirt or residue that may contaminate the test strip and throw off your results. If you don’t properly clean the area, the meter may pick up food, lotion, or dirt lingering on your skin and give you a reading for that instead of your blood.
9. Dry Your Hands
Whether you wash your hands before testing or use alcohol to sanitize the area, you need to make sure your skin is dry before taking a sample. Leftover water or alcohol can dilute the sample, giving you an unreliable reading. When you dry your hands, make sure you do so with a fresh, clean towel or tissue — you don’t want to contaminate your skin with a dirty towel after going through the effort of getting cleaned up.
10. Change the Batteries
Most glucose meters run on batteries. If your device isn’t responding, the batteries may be low. Put in new batteries, then check the settings to make sure nothing needs to be adjusted.
11. Keep Hydrated
The majority of your blood is water, which means that dehydration can throw off your results. Make sure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day and up your consumption if you’re active or in a hot environment.
12. Take Iron
Anemia is another medical condition that can contribute to incorrect blood sugar level readings, as a low red blood cell count makes it difficult to measure glucose. If you’re anemic, your doctor may prescribe iron tablets.
13. Check If the Test Strip is Fully Inserted
Sometimes, incorrect readings are the result of human error. One example is the test strip appearing to be inserted into the monitor, but not locking into place. Make sure the test strip is properly inserted before proceeding with the test.
14. Be Generous With Your Sample
To minimize pain and inconvenience, most meters can produce a reliable reading with a portion of a microliter of blood. However, a more generous sample raises the likelihood of an accurate test.
What if you didn’t apply enough blood the first time? A handful of test strips and meters can accept a second drop, but the majority can’t produce correct results with reapplication. Instead, you’ll need to get a new test strip and apply a generous sample.
You have to consider many factors when testing your glucose levels, but the one thing you should be able to trust is your meter’s programming. That’s why MedEnvios Healthcare offers the most reliable devices. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-489-1625 or visit us online.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Syda Productions