Monitoring blood glucose levels at home is simple and by far the best method to determine if your diabetes is well-controlled.
According to Dr. Kirti Samudra, MD, Diabetes Care Clinic, New Panvel “Self-monitoring of blood glucose has become important in the management of diabetes and more and more patients have started using it. Doctors modify the treatment based on the readings presented by patients, thus it’s very important that there should be no mistake. Care must be taken about the quality, storage, method, timing of the test and all the important aspects of Glucometer and strips. Depending only on meter readings is not advisable. Intermittent laboratory tests, HbA1c and CGM or AGP will help in the proper management of diabetes.”
However, the results from your glucometer may not always be accurate. The incorrect measurement may be the result of not only bad equipment, but also incorrect use of the device. Here are some common mistakes you may be making while checking your Blood Glucose (BG) levels at home:
1. Using alcoholic cleansers or lotions:
These, when used on the area to be pricked can dilute the blood sample and affect the BG reading. Do not wipe the surface of your finger with a disinfectant before puncturing the finger.
2. Wet hands:
Moisture on your finger or test strips can dilute the blood sample thereby affecting the accuracy of test results.
3. Insufficient blood sample:
Not using enough blood sample on the test strip can also affect your reading. However, do not press your finger to quicken the process. Instead, massage your hands before you test. This will help with blood flow. Prick the site and let your hand hang so the blood flows naturally.
4. Squeezing your finger too hard:
If the amount of blood sample is less, squeezing the finger too hard can cause the fluid surrounding the cells known as interstitial fluid to mix with your sample which may alter your BG readings.
5. Irregular monitoring:
Follow a regular time schedule and monitor your blood glucose levels at the same time each day, provided you have fixed meal timings. It is also advisable to monitor BG levels at the time prescribed by your doctor.
6. Incorrect piercing:
Do not pierce the lancet beyond 2.2mm depth as it can lead to a deeper puncture and impact the final reading. It can also lead to sore fingers.
7. Choosing the test area:
Testing on the pads of the fingers is painful and can lead to soreness later. The edges or sides of the fingertips are a better site for drawing your blood sample. Blood samples from sites other than your finger are not as accurate. If your results show variation, sample the blood from your fingertips to verify the drop or spike in the BG levels.
8. Checking test strips:
Not all glucometers reject expired strips. Instead, they might show an inaccurate reading. Check your test strips before use to address make sure your reading isn’t corrupted.
9. Not taking corrective action:
Analyze your test results and take necessary action. If your HbA1c level is high, it may be due to the fasting BG level. Test again after a meal and asses the results.
10. Storing your supplies inappropriately:
Store your glucometer, test strips, and lancet in a clean and dry place. Any kind of moisture, high or low temperature can impact the test strips and glucometer. Use resealable plastic bags to keep your supplies dry.
Measuring sugar is a diagnostic method, not a therapeutic intervention. It tells you if there is a problem, it does not solve it. If you check the reading but do not take action to rebalance the levels, it doesn’t work to control your condition. Educating yourself on how to use your readings to manage diabetes is vital when using glucometers.