Ensure your meter is coded or calibrated to the current batch of strips you are using. During the manufacturing process each batch of strips is subjected to slight differences, such as temperature and humidity. The strips are assigned a code number to inform your blood glucose meter of these differences. If your meter is coded incorrectly, your blood glucose result may be inaccurate. Some machines are self-calibrating and may not need to be coded.
Store your glucose strips and your glucose meter at room temperature away from humidity, cold and direct sunlight. All of these factors can influence your reading.
Change the batteries as soon as the warning indicator appears on the meter. This is usually at least once or twice a year depending on how frequently you test. When the battery indicator appears, you only have a limited number of tests remaining before the meter will not operate at all.
Replace the cap back on the strip container immediately after removing a strip. This ensures that no moisture gets in. Not all strips come in containers; some are packaged individually to prevent moisture problems. In these cases, it is important to only remove the strip from the packaging just before you perform your blood test.
When your blood glucose meter is working out of range, visit your Safeway Pharmacy or diabetes educator.
Pull out the control solution. If you suspect your glucose readings are not accurate, you can perform a test using the control solution for your specific glucose meter. Using a control solution instead of blood helps to determine if the strips are working properly. Before doing a control solution test, check its expiry date. Once opened, the control solution is only good for three to six months. Be sure to shake the solution well before using.
If the control test does not fall in the range specified on the strip container, there are still a few things to do. First, check the expiry date of your strips. Next, repeat the test with a new batch of strips from a freshly opened package. If the test is still out, this may indicate a problem with the meter (rather than the strips) and you may need to replace the meter. You may call the toll-free number on the back of the meter or bring the problem meter into your Safeway Pharmacy for a replacement. Control solutions are not meant as a substitute for the lab to meter checks (see step 5), but as a guide as to whether the strips and meter are working correctly.
Wash your hands in warm, soapy water prior to testing. This will help increase blood flow to the fingers. It also ensures there is no sugar or other substances on your skin that may affect the glucose reading. The use of alcohol swabs should be avoided since alcohol can cause drying of the skin. This may lead to cracks that can easily become infected.
Milk your fingers to obtain an adequate blood sample. Never squeeze the site you have poked; instead milk the finger to get an adequate sample. Ask for a demonstration of this technique. Squeezing the site can damage the tiny capillaries (blood vessels). Over time it may become difficult to get blood from that finger. Make sure you have applied enough blood on the strip and that the area where the blood goes in is completely full. If there is not enough blood, the meter may count down and give you a false reading. Most strips will take a second application of blood within the first few seconds if there was not enough the first time. (Review the manufacturer’s recommendations for your particular meter to be sure.)
Change your lancet (the tiny needle which pokes the finger) after each use. This will make acquiring a sample easier and less painful. For example, compare poking a hole in a piece of paper using a sewing needle with doing so using a blunt bobby pin. It is more difficult with the bobby pin and a larger hole is made. It’s the same with a lancet. If you don’t change it, the lancet will become dull and using it more painful and damaging to the skin.
Clean your meter every three to six months if required, depending on how often you test. Most meters do not require cleaning, but a few do. Some meters have lenses where blood can accumulate and affect your glucose reading. Consult your manual for direction.
Review your technique with the Diabetes Meter Technician at your Safeway pharmacy or diabetes education centre.
Consider replacing your meter about every three years. Most meters are accurate for much longer than that, but the technology of the meters and strips changes much more frequently. There may be improvemesnts such as needing less blood, less time to count down, and smaller, more compact meters.
Remember, blood glucose levels change frequently throughout the day. Levels depend on what and when you last ate. Blood glucose levels are affected by certain medications and will also change when you are not feeling well. Physical activity can change your blood glucose levels. Keep all your values recorded in a logbook. Follow up with your health care provider to determine appropriate action when your blood glucose levels fall outside your target levels.