In an era of Continuous Glucose Monitoring or CGMs, Glucometers still hold their place firm with their nearly accurate results. CGMs, at times, shows inaccurate results when there is a frequent change in blood sugar levels, but glucometers are still the first choice of diabetologists, when we talk about measuring blood glucose levels. Whenever there is severe hypoglycaemia, it is always advisable to measure your blood glucose in a glucometer.
Glucometers are well understood by Chronic diabetics but it’s quite a new gadget for newly diagnosed Type1 patients. Let’s have a short glimpse of how to use a glucometer and some obvious queries surrounding it.
How to use a Glucometer?
First of all, gather all the necessary things to measure blood glucose levels like glucometer, lancets, test strips, swabs, blood glucose diary.
- Start with the calibration of glucometer. Some older version of glucometers come with a code key or chip which needs to be fitted in the slot provided in the glucose meter. After insertion of the code key, you need to match the code displayed on the screen and on the test strip box. In most of the latest versions of glucometers, no code chip is required. This makes me remember the times, I used to have Accu-chek Active that came with a code key. It happened to me a couple of times, that the box of test strips was missing the code key and that made the test strips useless, as the glucose meter requires that code key to match up with the test strips and after that I used to check the packaging of test strips, as if it is not teared off from somewhere or if code key is present inside the test strip box or not. Glucometers these days are mostly without code keys and has made blood glucose testing hassle free. (Note- After purchasing a test strip box, always check whether the test strip container is tightly closed or not, as air and light damage the test area of the test strips. This happened to me once, that the test strip container was not closed as I opened the outer packaging of test strips. This made test strips useless and I had to ask my supplier to change the same).
- Once the meter is ready to use, wash your hands with soap before pricking your finger.
- Prepare your lancing device now. Remove the lancet cover and insert the lancet in it. Remove the lancet cap by twisting and pulling out. Put back the lancet cover carefully. Now, check for the working of the lancing device. (Some devices have a push and release buttons and others have a pull and release )
- It’s time to adjust the setting of lancing device, which depicts how far the needle will penetrate the skin. Usually, the lancing devices are numbered and you have to choose your number by hit and trial method. It is very difficult for newbies to decide a number. So, start with a random number, say 1.5 or 2 . If this does not retrieve sufficient blood for testing, try a new setting. Lancing at a particular number can’t be generalized, as the thickness of the skin varies from person to person.
- Now, wipe your finger with an alcohol swab and allow it to dry.
- Take out a strip from the strip container with the help of a forcep (Keep a forcep exclusively for taking out test strips), as this will not contaminate other strips. Put the strip in the test strip slot, this will turn on the meter automatically.
- As soon as the meter turns on, press the lancet device firmly on the side of the finger.
- Squeeze your finger slightly to get a drop of blood (Remember not to squeeze very hard, this may change the results)
- Touch the end of the test strip to the blood drop and in older versions of glucometer, you have to touch the blood drop on the center of the test strip.
- Wipe your finger with the swab and wait for the result. Note your BG level in your diary.Following is a short tutorial showing how to use a Glucometer-
1. Lancets of the glucose meters are meant for single use only, but I use them for 2-4 times. Lancets should be changed on regular intervals, as the sharpness of the needle wears off with each use and damages the tissues while pricking and will delay the healing of the fingertip, eventually.
2. Keep rotating fingertips of both the hands for pricking, this allows previous site to heal. Both the sides of each fingertip can be used for pricking.
3. To check the test results of your Glucometer, you can tally the readings with the test results of the glucose meter of your diabetologist or you can verify it with the pathology lab results for a couple of times, just to make sure that your meter is giving nearly accurate results. (Almost every Glucometer shows different test results because of different technologies used and a variation of 10-20 mg/dl can be expected every time).