How to Choose and Use a Glucose Meter?
If you have diabetes, keeping a strict check on your blood sugar levels is the most efficient way to manage your condition. By observing your blood glucose level regularly, you can not only provide your doctors with important information about your condition but also get to know how well your diet, exercise, and medications are working out for you. Modifying your treatment plan as well as lifestyle based on these results can help you achieve lower blood sugar levels as well as a healthier mind and body.
You can check your blood sugar level at home using a glucose meter, available at most pharmacies. However, it is important to study the different kinds of meters that you can choose from, based on your requirements and budget.
Blood sugar meters can range from basic to advanced models that can keep a record of your levels by storing information from previous tests. Other than the difference in primary cost, it is a one time investment and the only recurring cost will be of the testing strips.
Here are a few recommendations on the matter from the Canadian Diabetes Association:
- Readability: If you have poor vision, it is recommended that you opt for a blood glucose meter that has a large screen display.
- Testing in low-light or at night: It is better to get a glucose meter with an inlit display so that you can test even in low light settings or at night time.
- Where are you comfortable testing: Some glucose meters are suited for testing on the forearm and others on fingers. Depending on your comfort level and your doctor’s advice, pick the one that suits you.
- Portability: As a diabetic patient, you are advised to carry the glucose meter with you at all times so portability is an important aspect to consider while choosing a meter.
- Sample size required: Make sure you check up on the size of the blood sample required to get a proper reading on your meter. You’ll be doing it multiple times a day so it is better to not get one that doesn’t work well with a small sample size.
- Calibration with testing strips: You’ll need a regular supply of testing strips so getting a meter that sits well with the standard size is advisable.
- Refill system: Some strips or cartridges can be extremely narrow or difficult to deal with depending on your dexterity. Make sure you get the one that suits your finger size and skills.
- Speed of results: You will be testing multiple times a day and in some emergency cases when there is a drop in blood sugar so make sure you choose a meter that gives a quick reading.
- Memory: Ask yourself if you’re good at journaling or do you want a meter that can store your readings before choosing your blood glucose meter.
Now that you know how to choose a blood glucose meter, let’s get to know how to take a blood sample:
First you need to insert testing strips into the meter. The lancet device on the glucose meter comes with a needle (lancet) which is used to take the blood sample. Now place the lancet against the side of your fingertip, and activate the device by pressing the button.
The lancet will prick your skin and you will see a small drop of blood. Apply the blood to the test strip and wait for the meter to display your result. The result given is your blood sugar reading and is measured in mmol/L (Canadian units).
Even though it is an easy to perform test with no risks, here are a few tips to remember while testing your blood sugar at home:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water before testing to avoid infection.
- Replace the lancet with a fresh one every time since they can become dull with reuse and cause more pain.
- Alternate between fingers to keep the puncture site rotating.
- Don’t share the lancet device.
Make sure you consult your doctor to know how often you need to test your blood sugar and your target range. However, it is generally advised to test at different times and both before and after your meals and workouts to get a good understanding of your glucose levels. As for interpreting results, generally a reading before breakfast should be between 4.0 mmol/L to 7.0 mmol/L and a reading two hours after a meal should be between 5.0 mmol/L to 10.0 mmol/L.
The key to managing diabetes is keeping your blood sugar levels in check so if your reading is high, you should focus on what you eat, how you workout and also the kind of rest you are getting.
A high reading may also mean that your medications need an adjustment so do keep your healthcare professionals in the loop if you continue to see a high reading.