Getting Accurate Readings

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Given the expense of test strips, the discomfort of pricking your fingers or other body parts, and the inconvenience of setting aside time to monitor, you want accurate, useful results when you check your blood glucose level. For the most accurate blood sugar readings, follow these steps:

  • If your meter requires calibrating, or entering a code number with each new batch of strips, make sure it is calibrated properly before monitoring. That means checking the code in the meter against the number printed on the box or vial of test strips. If the code is wrong, your reading could be off by up to 40%.
  • Store your strips properly. Keep them in the container they came in and at room temperature.
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  • Before monitoring, wash your hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly.
  • Make sure you’re using enough blood. These days, many meters won’t start analyzing until enough blood has been placed on the test strip. If the first drop isn’t enough, you generally have a small window of time to add more blood. But if you fail to get enough blood on the strip within a certain amount of time, you may get an error message.

To make sure you get enough blood from a fingertip, hang the hand to be lanced by your side for a few minutes. Then, starting at the base of the finger, milk it downward before lancing. Don’t squeeze the area around the fingerprick after lancing because the blood may mix with interstitial fluid, altering the results.

When using alternative test sites such as a palm or forearm, rub the area to be lanced first. After lancing, continue to hold the lancing device against the site, and alternately apply and release pressure a few times to ensure that you get enough blood.

Originally published May 13, 2009.

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