Glucometers are an imperative tool in the lives of diabetics. Whether you are a Type-1 diabetic or Type-2 diabetic, it is essential to have a blood sugar testing machine that helps you monitor sugar levels time and again. However, the process of someone who has been recently diagnosed with diabetes might find it overwhelming as to how to use a glucometer, how to get accurate results, etc.
Before we talk about the right ways to use it, let us set a context on what is a glucometer and its purpose.
What is a Glucometer?
A glucometer, also known as glucose meter, is a device that helps in monitoring your blood sugar by needing a single drop of blood. Mostly compact and portable, the device provides readings by detecting the sugar levels in the body with the help of a test strip. The blood when comes in contact with the chemicals in the strip gives out electrical currents which reads out the level of glucose in the sample and provides numerical results in seconds.
Who should use a Glucometer?
A glucometer is advisable to anyone with high sugar levels. Anyone with Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), or latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) must include regular testing of blood sugar as part of their diabetes treatment.
Why should one use a Glucometer?
Glucometers help in monitoring blood sugar and help in the following ways:
- Check on the controlled blood sugar to know whether it’s high or low
- Assess the patterns regularly to check the increase/decrease in glucose
- Understand the responses of various activities including exercise for glucose levels
- Monitor the effects of diabetes medications and other therapies
- Assess your diabetes treatment goals
When to test?
Doctors and diabetes educators advise you to test pre and post meals, especially when you know your sugar levels are unusually high. The frequency of assessing your sugar levels depends on the type of diabetes you have.
Type 1 Diabetes
In the case of Type-1 diabetes, one might have to check his/her sugar levels between four to ten days a day. This can range throughout the day, before taking your meals, after having your meals, after exercising, before sleeping, etc. Since the sugar levels of a Type-1 diabetic are fluctuating frequently due to the body unable to produce insulin, it is important to test your blood sugar regularly.
Type 2 Diabetes
People with Type 2 Diabetes might have to check their blood sugar levels 2-4 times a day depending on the pre-existing body conditions. Furthermore, additional insulin intake also plays a pivotal role in the number of times one assesses blood sugar. In general, the timings preferred are before and after meals, exercising, and before bedtime.
How to use a glucometer?
Now that we have set the context of the use of glucometer and its importance in the lives of a diabetic, here are a few steps to follow on using the sugar testing machine:
Before starting out, ensure you have everything set out including your glucometer, the test strip, lancing device, lancet, and alcohol pad. The testing phase is divided into five phases:
- Preparing the lancet device
- Cleaning your hands before sugar level test
- Preparing glucometer and test strips
- Blood sampling and measurement of glucose test
- Disposing used lancet and test strips
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1. Preparing the lancet device
- Twist and remove the internal cap of the lancing device. This will open up the mounting part for lancet insertion
- Hold the lancet from the circular tip. Then, insert it completely into the mounting part
- Slowly rotate the protective circular cover of the lancet tip and make it ready for use
- Re-attach the internal cap over the mounting part
- The depth of the blood sample between 1-5 where level 5 is the deepest penetration. Select the number depending on the skin type
- Cock the lancing device by holding the adjustable tip in one hand and pulling on the sliding barrel. Do it till you feel a click
- This action would make the release button of the lancing device ready to puncture the test site for blood
2. Cleaning the device before sugar level test
- Wash your hands thoroughly. Use an alcohol swab in a case where you can’t wash your hands or are outdoors.
- Ensure your hands are completely dry by dabbing your fingers in a towel and remove all the moisture
- Rub your palms swiftly to warm-up the blood in your fingers
3. Preparing glucometer and test strips
- Insert a glucometer strip with the contact bar side facing upwards and into the meter’s test strip port
- Wait for the meter to detect the strip
- When the glucometer indicates that it is ready for use, follow the steps to take the blood sample
4. Blood sampling and measurement of glucose test
- Place the prepared lancing device against the pad of the finger and once ready, press the loaded trigger button to puncture the finger
- Remove the device from finger and wait for a 2-3 seconds for a small blood drop to form on the meter
- Apply the blood sample to the narrow black end of the test strip inserted into the glucometer
- Wait for 2-5 seconds for the result to show up
- Assess your sugar reading with the previously logged reading. This is easier if you have a smart glucometer in hand
- Keep a logbook handy to enter your reading and assess your progress
5. Disposing used lancet and test strips
- Once the result comes, clean the blood sample from the fingertip with lean cotton
- Twist and remove the cap of the lancing device to open up the mounting part
- Use the rounded protective gear to cover the use the lancet from the needle and cover it
- Rotate the lancing device again for lancet removal
- Collect the used lancet and test strip and dispose of it into the dustbin
Tips for First-Timers
If you have recently developed diabetes, here are a few tips that can help you ease the process:
- Do not forget to go through the manual. Please read it carefully to ensure the readings are accurate
- Initially, if you feel the pain while taking out blood, try reducing the thickness of the lancet
- Always use the strips designed for the glucometer. If you are finished with the strips provided with the kit, try reaching out to the same brand for continuous supply of strips
- Please ensure that the strips are used before the expiry date to ensure accurate results
- Dispose your lancets and strips well, either by thoroughly packing it or covering it in a plastic cover. Try avoiding contact of the used strips with any other human
- Keep your glucometer strips in a cool, dark, and dry place. Please ensure the strips are kept away from direct sunlight and moisture
Diabetes is a progressive condition and needs one to provide proper care and attention. In order to avoid fluctuations in your sugar level, it is important to check your sugar levels regularly.
Disclaimer: All information, content, and material of this article is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.