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Are All Home-Based Blood Sugar Tests Equal?

FDA takes steps to eliminate potential risks for people with diabetes

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The FDA's draft guidance document addressed this by asking manufacturers to describe their accuracy on their labels. This would allow consumers to better compare devices and judge for themselves.

Concerns, however, extend beyond manufacturers and standards.

"We are concerned that many Medicare patients have experienced issues getting the strips they want -- and those recommended by their doctor -- as a result of the competitive bidding program," Watkin said. That program, which started last summer, lowers the cost of blood-testing supplies, but limits where people can go to buy them. "They could unwillingly be getting switched to brands that potentially have lower accuracy," he said.

Dunlap also expressed some worry about people's lack of control over which product they choose and lack of information to make the right choice.

"The expectation that market forces can influence the market depends on a truly free market, and full and complete information," Dunlap said. "Right now, it's difficult to know which devices are more or less accurate."

However, people with diabetes "should continue to test and rely on test strips," the FDA's Lias said. "Be assured that test strips are safe and effective."

And, she said, "if any given test strip result doesn't match the way you feel, retest."

Dunlap urged people to go one step further: If you've had a problem with a blood glucose meter or a test strip, be sure to report it both to the manufacturer and the FDA.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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