Many of you might not realise, I live & care for someone with Type 2 Diabetes, who is on 4-5 insulin injections a day. Test strips invariably turn up in a variety of unsuspecting places, and between the patient and the nurse the house is littered with blood glucose monitors….new, used and somewhat abused!!
Lately we had been getting some wild and wacky readings, which did not make any sense at all. I could only put it down to the monitor/strips. On review of the all the monitors and strips, we have now settled with one, and the blood sugar levels seemed to have eased, which leads me to believe I was right that that was the issue. But it got me thinking, and a little bit nervous of the variability of readings and how much we trust that the results the monitor gives us are accurate.
Its hard living with diabetes, to get things right all the time, and thinking to do things the ‘proper’ way. Maybe a vial of test strips was left open for much longer than they were, thrown around the back of the car to toast in the morning sun. So many unsuspecting things can affect both the monitor and the strips that you might not be aware of that can affect readings.
How accurate is accurate?
The accuracy of this test depends on many factors including:
- the quality of your meter
- the quality of your test strips
- how well you perform the test. For example, you should wash and dry your hands before testing and closely follow the instructions for operating your meter.
- your hematocrit (the amount of red blood cells in the blood). If you are severely dehydrated or anemic, your test results may be less accurate. Your health care provider can tell you if your hematocrit is low or high, and can discuss with you how it may affect your glucose testing.
- interfering substances (Some substances, such as Vitamin C, Tylenol, and uric acid, may interfere with your glucose testing). Check the instructions for your meter and test strips to find out what substances may affect the testing accuracy.
- altitude, temperature, and humidity (High altitude, low and high temperatures, and humidity can cause unpredictable effects on glucose results). Check the meter manual and test strip package insert for more information.
- store and handle the meter and strips according to manufacturer’s instructions. It is important to store test strip vials closed
It makes sense every time you change your monitor to read the manufacturers instructions and guidelines. The test strip contains chemicals that react with glucose. Some meters measure the amount of electricity that passes through the test strip. Others measure how much light reflects from it.
There are many different types of meters available for purchase that differ in several ways, including:
- amount of blood needed for each test
- how easy it is to use
- pain associated with using the product
- testing speed
- overall size
- ability to store test results in memory
- likelihood of interferences
- ability to transmit data to a computer
- doctor’s recommendation
- technical support provided by the manufacturer
- special features such as automatic timing, error codes, large display screen, or spoken instructions or results
Talk to your health care provider about the right glucose meter for you, and how to use it.
There are three ways to make sure your meter works properly:
- Use liquid control solutions:
- every time you open a new container of test strips
- occasionally as you use the container of test strips
- if you drop the meter
- whenever you get unusual results
To test a liquid control solution, you test a drop of these solutions just like you test a drop of your blood. The value you get should match the value written on the test strip vial label.
- Use electronic checks. Every time you turn on your meter, it does an electronic check. If it detects a problem it will give you an error code. Look in your meter’s manual to see what the error codes mean and how to fix the problem. If you are unsure if your meter is working properly, call the toll-free number in your meter’s manual, or contact your health care provider.
- Compare your meter with a blood glucose test performed in a laboratory. Take your meter with you to your next appointment with your health care provider. Ask your provider to watch your testing technique to make sure you are using the meter correctly. Ask your health care provider to have your blood tested with a laboratory method. If the values you obtain on your glucose meter match the laboratory values, then your meter is working well and you are using good technique
Diabetes Insight is Ireland’s only private independent advisory service and education centre dedicated and specializing solely in Diabetes Self Management Education (DSME). Its aim is to make a difference in the lives of those living daily with diabetes by providing quality education, advice, support and resources in a clear, simple, practical easy to understand manner without fear of judgement or blame. We respect and see each person with diabetes as an individual, with individual needs, so all our services are tailored to your specific needs.
All our services are designed and facilitated by Helena Farrell RGN, MSc Diabetes who has over 15 years experience working and studying in diabetes management. These services are unique, from cookery courses to one day courses and are not to be found in any other health service or provider within the Republic of Ireland.
Contact us today to see how we can help you and make a difference to you living with diabetes by ringing Helena on (086) 1739287 &/or email email@example.com. With services starting from as little as 20 euros, there is something to cater for every budget and need.