What Are Glucometers?
Glucometers are a type of medical device used to measure your blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that your fasting blood sugar levels be 80-130 mg/dl and your post-meal sugar levels be less than 180 mg/dl.1 However, your glucometer may indicate that your blood sugar levels should be at a certain level that is different than what the ADA recommends because your glucometer is calibrated a certain way. Follow the directions of your doctor and ask him/her the range that your blood sugar levels should be with your new glucometer.
How Often Should You Use Them?
For patients with type I diabetes it is recommended that you measure your blood sugar levels four times daily. More specifically, you should measure your post-prandial (post-meal) blood sugar levels two hours after you eat and your pre-prandial (fasting) blood sugar levels in the morning before eating. Your doctor may recommend you test your blood sugar levels at night to determine the correct dose or you may need to test your sugar levels after physical activity.2
Factors Affecting Your Blood Sugar Levels
There is a small strip-to-strip variation which leads to blood glucose inaccuracy readings. The typical error varies for each individual strip, but the approximate error is 3%.3 There are several more specific factors that will influence the accuracy of your blood glucose strips. These factors include altitude and temperature.3
“The ability of a patient to use their meter properly can have great influence on the accuracy of a blood glucose meter. Most blood glucose meters need to be coded, although some of the new meters avoid coding. Coding determines the relationship between the electrical signal produced by the strip and the reported blood glucose.”3
How Reliable Are Glucometers?
There are several factors as mentioned previously that can affect the accuracy of glucometers. A randomized control study looking at the reliability of glucometers against a reference instrument.5
“Results of the present study suggest that the glucometer provided poor validity and reliability results compared to the results provided by the reference laboratory analyzer. The portable glucometers should be used for patient management, but not for diagnosis, treatment, or research purposes.”5
Each glucometer works differently based on the brand you are prescribed. First wash your hands. You want to make sure to turn your glucometer is on. Then put the test strip with the colored marks inside the glucometer hole. Some glucometers turn automatically on when you insert a test strip. Use your lancet to puncture a hole on the side of your finger. Once you have a blood drop put that drop at the tip of your test strip.4
(1) Accu-Chek. Introduction to self-monitoring blood glucose. Available from: https://www.accu-chek.com/management-tips/introduction-self-monitoring-blood-glucose Accessed October 31, 2018
(2) Accu-Chek. When to test your blood sugar. Available from: https://www.accu-chek.com/management-tips/when-test-your-blood-sugar Accessed October 31, 2018
(3) Ginsberg BH. Factors affecting blood glucose monitoring: sources of errors in measurement. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2009;3(4):903-13. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769960/ Accessed October 31, 2018
(4) Accu-Chek. How to test your blood glucose. Available from: https://www.accu-chek.com/management-tips/how-test-your-blood-sugar Accessed October 31, 2018
(5) Salacinski AJ, Alford M, Drevets K, Hart S, Hunt BE. Validity and Reliability of a Glucometer Against Industry Reference Standards. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2014;8(1):95-99. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4454112/ Accessed October 31, 2018