Consistently monitoring your blood glucose levels can help lead to better diabetes control. A hand-held glucose meter lets you test your glucose levels at home, so you know how much sugar is in your blood, and how to respond accordingly.
By monitoring your own glucose, you can determine if you are within your goal range. With that information, you can decide whether or not you need to adjust your medication, if necessary, or see how your diet and activity levels affect your blood glucose throughout the day.
Home monitoring gives you the opportunity to make any changes necessary to improve the lifestyle choices that are affecting your health, such as what you eat and when and how you exercise. A home monitoring system also alerts you to glucose levels that are high or low enough to cause harm, so that you can take immediate, emergency action.
It is most important to get accurate test results when you experience extremes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), so that you can make accurate treatments decisions. While manufacturers of home glucose monitoring devices are held to certain standards, there are still many variables that can lead to incorrect results when you do your own testing.
Since there are several reasons why you might get an inaccurate reading—including meter malfunction and faulty or expired test strips—take these steps to ensure accuracy:
#1. Test with clean, dry hands. Any residue on your skin from lotion, oil, food or other substances could affect the results.
#2. Draw blood from your finger for the most accurate results.
#3. Follow the instructions that come with your meter for testing its accuracy.
#4. Check for accuracy when you open a new package of test strips or if your routine testing results are lower or higher than you would normally expect.
#5. Compare your home monitoring results with those performed at a medical lab. Test your own glucose within 10 minutes of having it analyzed. Home meters are not as accurate as laboratory meters but they should be close. If there is no more than a 15% difference, you can trust your meter.
#6. Stay informed. Glucose monitoring devices can develop problems and test strips have been found to give inaccurate results after they hit the market. Check out FDA’s Medical Device Safety alert site, where you can sign up for email updates and alerts regarding reported problems and recalls.
#7. Keep abreast of new technologies that function as recording, advising, and alert systems to help people with diabetes record home monitoring results and manage their conditions. The goal of accurate and consistent home monitoring is, of course, to control your blood sugar levels from day to day, in order to prevent or delay long-term complications.
To this end, the overall usefulness and effectiveness of home monitoring devices can be enhanced by the use of compatible smartphone or tablet applications and other electronic methods of recording and managing your results over time, which in turn can help you better manage both your diabetes and the steps you routinely take to treat the condition.