Who Should Use it?
A glucometer measures the amount of glucose in the blood. The ability to check blood sugar levels is essential in the successful management of diabetes. If the body can’t make or use insulin properly, then glucose remains in the blood instead of being transferred to cells. High blood glucose levels are unhealthy and need management through monitoring, medication and lifestyle.
People with diabetes benefit from the use of a glucose meter because knowing how the blood glucose levels fluctuate in response to food, exercise and medication assists in spotting patterns and planning treatment.
Daily blood sugar monitoring is essential in control of type 1 diabetes to calculate the amount of insulin needed. Type 1 diabetics bodies can’t make insulin.
Type 2 diabetes can arise at any age, but often develops in later life (after 45) and lifestyle factors increase the risk of becoming diabetic. The body either stops making insulin or can’t use it efficiently. Monitoring blood sugar levels with a glucose meter assists in controlling the condition and minimizing the impact on health.
Some pregnant women develop diabetes – gestational diabetes. Following birth, this type of diabetes goes away, but it may warn of later development of type2 diabetes. During the pregnancy, a blood glucose meter to monitor and assist with control of blood sugar levels is helpful for the mother to safeguard her health.
Anyone with diabetes or a potential diabetic could benefit from using a blood glucose meter in consultation with a doctor.
When to Test?
You will set up your testing regime in consultation with a doctor or other health professional.
Type 1 diabetics don’t make insulin, so they need to test between four and ten times per day to calculate the necessary insulin dosage. Typically, a person with type 1 diabetes will routinely check before eating any food, exercising or going to bed. They will also test after exercise and possibly during the night.
The testing routine for pregnancy-related diabetes or type 2 diabetes depends on the need to take insulin. Generally, a test between two and four times a day before meals and on the way to bed is a consistent routine. For controlling these types of diabetes daily testing may not be necessary if there is no need to calculate insulin doses and there is a regular blood sugar pattern.
A change in routine – while traveling or taking up running – may cause changes in blood sugar level, and then you would test more frequently until your blood sugar levels settle into a pattern.
How to Use a Blood Glucose Meter?
You use a blood glucose meter to chart and record your blood sugar levels, so when you visit your doctor, you can discuss the results and control your condition with appropriate actions.
Through regular testing, you can control the condition by taking action to keep the blood sugar levels in the safe range – neither too high nor too low. You can start to spot patterns of when you are most likely to spike or crash and identify those warning signs so you can avoid unpleasant results.
Testing and recording blood sugar levels allows you and your doctor to assess the impact of diet, exercise, and medication on your blood glucose. This information helps to develop a better treatment plan.
With type 1 diabetes, regular testing is essential to ensure that you take the appropriate amount of insulin.
When you know your testing routine, it’s worth having a system – like a habit tracker – to ensure you test every time. Some glucometers automatically record the results, but it is worth keeping a written log of the day, time and type of test. You can then add notes like – exceptionally busy today, that may provide more information about how your blood glucose level varies.
Your doctor may ask you to do a regular fasting test – in the morning after you have gone eight hours without food or a couple of hours after eating (postprandial reading) as part of your regular testing.
Take your glucose meter to your medical appointments as it is an opportunity to check that it is working correctly.
What You Need to Use a Glucometer?
The blood sugar testing kit prescribed by your doctor contains glucometer, lancets, lancing device and testing strips. You will also need batteries, a container for sharps disposal, cleaning alcohol, cotton wool balls, a notebook and a pen. It makes sense to have a bag or another box to keep your supplies together.
The glucose meter needs batteries, so make sure you have spare batteries. Especially if you are out and about.
You use alcohol and cotton wool to clean the hands before taking the sample. If you have access to soap and water, then you don’t need this. You may prefer to use a small dab on the finger every time to be sure the area is sterile.
The lancets (needles) come in a range of thicknesses – the higher numbers are thinner than, the lower ones. If obtaining the blood drop is painful, then try using a thinner needle. You need a new lancet every time you test your blood – you need to maintain an adequate supply. Store the unused lancets securely away from children and pets.
The lancet (needle) fits in the lancing device. The lancing device adjusts to control how far the lancet goes into the finger. You need it to go in far enough to create a blood drop but not so deep that it hurts. Try a few settings until you find the one that suits you.
The lance is a sharp needle and must be disposed of carefully. A dedicated sharps box from the pharmacist is ideal, but you can improvise with a thick plastic bottle with a screw top. Your hospital, doctor or pharmacist will have a facility for disposing of used needles.
The glucometer instructions will specify which testing strips are needed. You will either allow a droplet of blood to fall on the strip (hanging drop) or touch the blood to the edge of the testing strip. A testing strip is for one-off use. Store the testing strips in sealed containers to avoid damage by light and moisture. A testing strip has a limited life of three to six months so use the oldest strips first to avoid waste.
Notebook and Pen
It is helpful to keep a manual record in addition to the electronic record – you can add more information and you have a visual reminder of when you need to test your blood sugar levels.
Glucometer Usage Instructions:
Your doctor or diabetes nurse may show you how to use the glucose meter but when you are preparing to use it by yourself take time to read through the instructions and note:
1. Do you put the blood drop on the testing strip before or after it is in the glucometer?
2. Do you drop the blood onto the strip or touch the droplet to the strip?
3. How much blood is necessary?
4. Where do you insert the testing strip?
5. Where is the reading displayed?
Once you know the process, check that the blood sugar monitor has batteries installed and carry out a test to make sure the machine is working. The kit provides either a premade test strip or a test liquid you drop on a clean test strip. The reading from the device should be in the right range for the test.
After you have followed the testing routine for a few days, the process will become as automatic as brushing your teeth.
1. Set out your supplies – glucometer, lancet device, new lancet, new test strip, alcohol, and cotton wool.
2. If you can wash your hands with soap and water for about 15 seconds, if no washing facilities are available, then you can rely on the alcohol to clean the skin, but it is better to wash your hands first when possible. Rinse your hands with warm water and dry briskly with a towel. Blood low is quicker with warm rather than cold hands. If you can’t wash your hands, then run them together to warm them up.
3. Prepare yourself to take a blood sample. Depending on the blood sugar monitor -insert the strip and then take the blood sample or take the blood sample and insert the strip.
4. Swab with alcohol the area where you are going to take the sample. Let the alcohol evaporate – do not rub it. It is less painful to take the blood from the side of a finger rather than from the pad. Set the needle in the lancet device, avoid touching the point, and prick the finger to release a drop of blood. Apply the blood to the test strip.
5. The blood sugar monitor will display the blood sugar reading for you to record and take appropriate action.
6. Dispose of the used lancet and test strip.
7. Pack away your testing kit and wash your hands.