How to Make Sure Your Glucose Meter is Accurate

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Glucose Meter accuracy

Glucose Meter accuracy is a modern medical revelation that allows people with diabetes to self-monitor their glucose levels.

It is an incredible device that has made this frustrating disease more manageable and helps prevent more severe symptoms of diabetes from occurring.

But it is important to also understand glucose meter accuracy and what the numbers really mean. While the device is able to give a snapshot of what the current glucose levels are in the body, it does not have 100% accuracy in representing the levels in your bloodstream.

While this may be confusing to some people, we are going to explain why the number that shows up on your glucose monitor is more of a range rather than an absolute—and what you can do to get the most accurate reading possible.

Glucose meter accuracy explained

You should only ever be using a glucose monitor that is approved by the FDA. This is the first check-point to ensure that the accuracy of glucose monitors meets international standards and will be consistent throughout its use. To get the approval from the FDA, the glucose monitor is equired to come within 15% of the lab reading at least 95% of the time it performs test. So, first and foremost, never purchase one which does not claim to be FDA approved!

But aside from FDA approval, you should also consider other factors when choosing an accurate glucose meter. In most cases, blood glucose meters, when used correctly, are accurate. But there are factors that can lead them to make an incorrect reading. These factors include the following: 

  • Extreme temperatures: Keep the device and test strips at room temperature to ensure a more precise result.  
  • Test strip problems: Check the strips to see if they’re damaged or expired. Store them in a sealed container to avoid humidity and moisture. 
  • Monitor problems: Make sure to regularly replace the device’s batteries and fully insert the strip into the monitor.
  • Inadequate application of blood to the test strip: Add a sufficient amount of blood to the test strip, and avoid putting more after the first one has been added.
  • Testing site location: It’s best to use the fingertips as a testing site. In some cases, blood samples from other testing sites may not provide a precise finding of whether the blood sugar level is rising or decreasing.  

By keeping these factors in mind, you’ll know whether the blood glucose meter results are accurate. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to take the necessary steps to prevent the problem.

How to know what the number means

Now, here comes the part which many people find a bit tricky. It is important when reading the glucose monitor that the number provided is in fact a range, not a set-in stone number. So when deciding if you need to give yourself an insulin injection, it is important to not take the number literally. If you are getting a high number, it is recommended to do two tests so you can better understand the range and determine how much insulin your body needs—as research indicates that the higher the blood sugar level means the higher the variance in the reading.

Aside from taking the blood glucose meter test, consider using an A1c home tester kit to determine your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. This test can be used to monitor A1c at home, so it’s a convenient method to know how well you’re managing your blood sugar.  

Why you should only use one meter

The reason that you should only be using one glucose meter is to best ensure accuracy. They are designed to provide an extremely high level of accuracy in their readings, even if the readings are not absolute. By only using one glucose meter, you will be getting consistent numbers in which you can learn and adjust the levels of insulin you need based on that. Consistency really is key when it comes to getting the most accurate glucose level reading.

Outside factors that can impact the reading

Another reason why the glucose meter is not 100% accurate is because of the consistent threat of outside factors. Aside from the factors mentioned above, the reading of your blood sugar levels can also be impacted from a range of reasons that include having participated in an intense activity or exercise, being dehydrated, drinking coffee or alcohol, flying in a plane or being stressed. So, if you know you have any outside factors that may be contributing to your glucose monitor reading, you should keep that in mind when determining the accuracy of the numbers your test sample produced.

Expensive does not mean more accurate

For those looking to purchase a glucose monitor of their own, it is important to remember that just because a monitor is expensive does not mean that in fact it is any more accurate than the competitors. To understand which glucose monitor may be best for you, have a chat to your doctor about what ones they recommend and which ones are proven to work within the diabetes community.

Glucose monitors are an essential item to have if you suffer from diabetes, just remember that it is not an absolute number, but more a gauge of where your current blood levels are at.

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