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Getting Up to Date on Glucose Meters

Tips for Proper Use continued...

Use the test strips that are recommended for your glucose meter. It is important to only use the test strips that are specified for your glucose meter. Otherwise, the device may fail to give results or may generate inaccurate results.

Know that readings taken from "alternate sites" may not always be as accurate as readings from the fingertips. These readings can differ at times when glucose levels are changing rapidly. This is common after a meal, after taking insulin, during exercise, or when you are ill or under stress.

Use blood from a fingertip rather than an alternate site if you think your blood glucose is low, you don't normally have symptoms when your blood glucose is low, or the results from the alternate site doesn't match how you are feeling.

Know the factors that affect meter accuracy. These may include

  • testing conducted on unclean skin
  • improper storage of test strips
  • the amount of red blood cells (hematocrit) in the bloo
  • other substances present in the blood such as uric acid, glutathione, and vitamin C
  • altitude, temperature, and humidity
  • use of test strips developed as a less expensive option than the strips intended for a certain mete
  • test strips that cannot distinguish between glucose and other sugars. (See "Test Strip Safety: Vital Precautions," below)

Perform quality-control checks with test control solutions to ensure that the test strips and meter are working properly together. Some meters may also provide electronic test strips that induce a signal to indicate if the meter (and only the meter) is working properly. In addition, perform quality control checks with control solutions regularly to ensure the meter is working properly.

Ask your health care provider to watch you test yourself. He or she can tell you if you are using the meter correctly.

Know when and how to clean your meter. Some meters need regular cleaning. Others don't need regular cleaning, but contain electronic alerts indicating when you should clean them. You should follow the directions given in the manual on how to clean the meter. Only the manufacturer can clean some meters.