To get an instant estimate of your blood glucose level, a glucometer is a valuable device. It is cheaper and more convenient than laboratory testing, thereby allowing more frequent testing and self-monitoring of blood glucose. A glucometer thus becomes an indispensable part of the toolkit to manage diabetes or prediabetes.
However, glucometers are limited in their use. That is why they should not be the only means of tracking blood sugar.
According to Dr Prakash T Rai, MD, Dr Rai Clinic, Jogeshwari, “Good control of blood glucose levels is the key to preventing complications of diabetes. Though self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) gives a fair idea about sugar levels, it needs to be backed up by lab tests to ensure the correctness of the glucometer as well as the technique.”
Firstly, glucometers generally do not track blood glucose over a period of time. Although some of the newer ones store many previous readings, they do not give you an easy visual of how your blood glucose over time. For this purpose, an app like Wellthy helps. You can store your data and have easy access to it from anywhere using your smartphone.
A glucometer measures blood glucose (sugar) using a drop of blood from a finger prick, thus using the whole blood in your capillaries. This method gives an estimate that is within 10-20% of the result obtained by laboratory testing. Although this is acceptable from the point of view of self-monitoring of glucose level, when a reading is too high or too low or differs too much from the previous day, this reading should be confirmed using laboratory testing.
Factors such as room temperature, altitude, variations between strips, quality of the blood from a finger prick, condition of the device or the strip, calibration code errors, etc. all influence the measurement obtained using a glucometer.
Glucometers do not measure HbA1c. HbA1c or glycated haemoglobin gives you an estimate of the blood glucose level over the past 2 months while a glucometer gives you the blood glucose reading at that instant. Thus, HbA1c helps both the clinician and the person undergoing the test to understand what one’s blood glucose level has been over a period of time.
Therefore, it is necessary that you maintain your glucometers well, check them periodically against laboratory tests, undergo other tests such as HbA1c to have a more thorough understanding of your glucose, and use apps such as Wellthy. This will help you to better track your blood glucose levels and thus make better decisions for your health and lifestyle.