Self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) is of paramount importance to manage diabetes well. SMBG allows you to adjust the dose of insulin and remains a key instrument in the analysis of blood sugar levels for better treatment in both diabetes type 1 and type 2. Self-monitoring makes it possible to track the changes in blood glucose levels, to evaluate the effect of certain factors, and help you to make changes aimed at rebalancing sugar levels.
According to Dr Vinod Methil, Consultant Diabetologist, Sweet Clinics Vashi, Navi Mumbai, “SMBG has become an integral part of standard diabetes care in daily practice. It actually helps in your treatment decisions which in turn helps to reduce blood glucose levels while avoiding hypoglycemia. It helps in recording the glycemic swings occurring throughout the day. It is fast, relatively cheap and very much convenient to the patient providing results in a few seconds. When these SMBG results are incorporated with the newer health apps, it can guide the patients on right nutritional advice, exercise tips etc for better control on blood sugar levels as well as weight management.
Here’s what you need to know about SMBG and glucometers:
- Choose a glucometer by taking into account the patient’s age, comorbidities and type of treatment. For instance, it is important that the meter for the elderly has a large display, it is clear and easy to use. Here are some tips to buy a glucometer that works for you.
- Before you start measuring, make sure that the meter and test strips have the same temperature. Do not take the readings if you notice moisture on the meter as it may affect the accuracy of results.
- Do wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and dry them with a towel. Dirty hands, sweat, food crumbs may disturb the measurement. Warm water promotes blood circulation and allows an accurate amount of blood sample. You can also massage your palm and fingers to get the required amount of blood in a single prick.
- Do remember to keep a record of all your measurements, along with the date, time of day and details of factors that could have influenced the value obtained on the device. You can use the Wellthy app to do this.
- Do store the test strips in a cool, dry place at a temperature of 5° to 30°C. Do not open the test strips until you are ready to remove the strap and measure. Use the test strip immediately after removing it from the vial, especially if you are in a place with high humidity.
- Do not use medical alcohol or hydroalcoholic gel, these solutions disrupt the chemical reaction on the surface of the strip which could skew the results.
- Do not limit yourself to measuring fasting sugar. Monitoring blood glucose before and after a meal can provide you and your doctor with valuable information on the effects of food and/ or medicine (including insulin) on your blood glucose level. Here’s how often you should be checking your blood sugar levels at home.
- Do not reuse lancets. They are for single use because their small size makes them deteriorate. If reused, they can cause greater damage than necessary to the skin tissue.
- Do not use old strips as they can completely skew the results. In the same way, keep them in their air-tight packaging, as moisture can also damage their sensitive sides. If you doubt the effectiveness of a strip, it is possible to check it with a control solution whose result is already known.
- Do not share your meter and lancet with other people, including family members. They are intended for one person.