Several companies make blood glucose meters. Within these, some companies make two different brands of strips. Before you start, make sure you are using the correct brand (and sub-type, if applicable) of test strips for your meter. For example, Bayer Contour strips will not work with a Bayer Contour Next machine. It is also prudent to check the expiry date on your strips to make sure they are still accurate; the expiry date for unopened strips will be written on the packaging.
Temperature and moisture changes can influence a reading. If you anticipate bringing your meter into a situation where it will be exposed to extreme temperatures, such as skiing or summer camping, review your owner’s manual. You can also contact your local diabetes meter trainer to see if there are any concerns with how the meter will function.
Depending on how frequently you test, you usually need to change the batteries at least once or twice a year. Once the battery indicator appears, you typically have less than 30 tests before the battery dies. To obtain a replacement battery, call the 1-800 number on the back of your meter, or contact the pharmacy that gave you the meter. Most companies provide batteries at no charge.
This keeps moisture out of strips that come in containers, as most do. A few are packaged individually to prevent moisture problems. With this type, remove the strip from the packaging immediately before doing the blood test. Most strips expire three months after being exposed to air and should not be used past this date.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association clinical practice guidelines, people with diabetes should have their meter accuracy confirmed by a laboratory measure of fasting blood glucose at least once per year or whenever your meter results don’t match your A1C test results. Blood glucose meters can lose accuracy over time. Another option is to consider replacing your meter. Most meter companies will provide a new meter free of charge if you purchase a box of strips. If you wish to keep your original meter, bring your meter in for accuracy testing and follow these steps.
If your blood glucose meter is working out of range, visit your Safeway Pharmacy or diabetes educator.
The warm water increases blood flow to the fingers. It also removes sugar or other substances on your skin that might affect the glucose reading. When possible, minimize using alcohol swabs, since alcohol can dry the skin. If warm, soapy water it not available, alcohol swabs or hand sanitizer are acceptable.
Use skin on the sides of your fingers to acquire the small amount of blood that you will need to do a reading. Testing at the same site repeatedly can lead to callus build-up and pain.
A fresh lancet makes it easier and much less painful to acquire a sample. Think of poking a piece of paper with a sewing needle compared to with a bobby pin. Since the bobby pin is blunt, it is difficult to poke through the paper and makes a much larger hole. It will likely rip the area around the hole as well, since it is unable to make a clean puncture. The same thing happens to a lancet that is not changed after each use. It becomes very dull, making it painful and damaging to the skin. Note the depth setting on your lancing device and adjust it if needed. If you find the lancet is drawing too much blood or causes pain, dial down to a lower setting. If you are not drawing enough blood, dial up to a higher setting (or ask about a lower gauge/thicker lancet).
Most meters do not require cleaning, but a few do. Use a soft damp cloth to remove any dirt or blood from your meter. Typically, any meter that uses an internal cartridge (for example, Accu-Chek Mobile or Bayer Breeze 2) will require a cleaning of the cartridge slot.
Improper testing can result in incorrect blood glucose readings. Your pharmacist or certified diabetes educator can let you know if you are using the proper testing technique and can also inform you of meter upgrades. Meter companies regularly develop new meters that have improved accuracy and more functions.
Most meters remain accurate longer, but meter and strip technology changes quite often. It is worth checking for improvements like needing less blood for testing, Bluetooth compatibility, and second-chance testing. If you are wondering about new meter technology, your local Safeway pharmacy staff are happy to discuss your options. All meter companies have associated websites. Most are of high quality with detailed information about their current meter lines and features. These websites can be valuable resources. You can access them from home to learn more about your meter’s features, or when looking to select a new version. You can also refer to the Blood Glucose Meter chart on pages 16 and 17 in this issue.
Remember, blood glucose levels change frequently throughout the day. Your levels will depend on what and when you last ate. Blood glucose levels are affected by certain medications, so always ask your pharmacist
if there are any concerns when you start a new medication.
Physical activity, alcohol use and illness can change your levels.
Follow up with your health care provider if your blood glucose levels fall outside your target levels on a recurring basis.