Glucose Meters Tips

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Why should I do controls on my glucometer?

Checking Glucometer Controls

Glucometer "controls" are performance tests that you complete on your glucose meter, to ensure that it is functioning properly.

When you first get your meter, you also receive from 1 to 3 bottles of control solution, depending the make and model of your glucometer. Your instruction book details how to complete the control testing, including how frequently you should check your meter.

Ideally, your glucose meter should be checked each time you begin using a new bottle of test strips.

To perform the control test:

1. Shake the control solution bottle to evenly distribute the glucose solution.

2. Turn on your meter or insert the strip, if it turns on automatically.

3. Apply a drop of the control solution to the test strip, just as you would apply a drop of blood.

4. Read the results, and compare them with the acceptable test range identified on the control solution package.

5. If the value is in range, your glucose meter is working properly. If the value is not in range, follow the instructions in your manual to troubleshoot your glucometer.

It is important to confirm the functioning of your glucometer because your treatment is based on your blood sugar readings. If the glucose values are not accurate, then your treatment will not be appropriate, either, putting you at risk for complications.

How do I maintain my glucose meter?

Glucometer Maintenance

Like any other piece of equipment, glucose meters need routine maintenance in order to function properly.

Since your treatment depends on the readings from your glucose machine, glucometer maintenance is key to ensuring that your blood glucose values are accurate, so that your treatment is appropriate.

Here are some important tips to keep your glucometer in tip-top shape:

1. Cleaning - some glucometers have a lens area that can become smeared with blood, oils from your fingers and dust. Do not use alcohol to clean your lens, as it can damage it. A better choice is plain water or a special cleaner designed for cleaning delicate equipment. Using a soft cloth, gently wipe the lens area clean.

2. Batteries - your glucometer may not signal you when the batteries are

getting low, or your may get skewed readings before the low battery message is shown. Get to know your glucometer and set a regular schedule for changing your batteries.

3. Keep a spare set of batteries nearby in the event you need to do a last-minute or late-night testing.

4. Performing controls - the best way check if your glucose meter is working

properly is to routinely perform controls. When you get your meter, you will also be provided with control solution. Use the solution like you would a blood sample, and compare the reading with the desired range on the control packaging. If the control is out of range, you may need to shake the solution better, clean your lens, or replace your batteries.

5. Using the check strip or key - when you open a new bottle of test strips, remember to use the check strip or key to set the code on your glucometer.

Remembering these key maintenance tips will help to ensure that your glucometer is performing optimally, and that your blood sugar readings are accurate.

How do I decide what type of glucometer to use?

Choosing a Glucose Meter

Different people require different glucose meeters. The type of glucometer that you select should be based on your lifestyle, testing requirements, and your physical abilities.

Some meter screens display smaller numerals, than others, which can be difficult to read if you have impaired vision. Other meters have very small testing strips, which can be hard to handle for persons with arthritis or peripheral neuropathy - one of the many complications of diabetes.

Additionally, some glucose monitors have special functions that allow for computer downloading of the blood glucose information, which is helpful for patients with doctors who can access the information from a distance.

Key factors to consider when selecting a glucose meter, include:

*dexterity - can you manage the testing strips and the meter?

*eye function - can you see and read the glucose meter screen?

*frequency of testing - some meter supplies are most costly than others *special functions - is the ability to computer download important to you? *ease of use - are the instructions easy to understand? Is the meter easy to use?

Look at these areas when deciding on what type of glucose meter you are going to use, and consult your Diabetic Educator or healthcare provider to help you choose the meter that best meets all of your glucose testing needs.

What can I do if my glucometer doesn't seem to be working right?

Trouble-Shooting your Glucometer

There are many different types of glucose meters on the market, and they all work in essentially the same ways. This means that they all can experience problems, which may impact your blood glucose readings.

If your blood sugar value seems unrealistic to you, trouble-shoot your meter by checking these key things:

1. Do you have the right strips?

*If you have changed meters, recently, make sure that you are using the right
test strips for your new meter, that the strips you are using have not been
exposed to light, and are not expired.
2. Does the code on your glucometer match the code on the bottle of test strips
you are using?

*Each time you open a new bottle of strips, make sure that you use the check strip or key, to match your glucometer to your test strips. This ensures that the strip and your meter are "communicating" properly.

3. Did you get the right sample size?

*Different meters require different amounts of blood to read your blood sugar. Make sure that the testing area on the strip is filled with blood, so that your meter can perform the test.

4. Are you using the right control solution?

*Make sure that you are using the control solution that goes with your meter, and that it is not expired. Different solutions are keyed to different glucometers. Control solution generally expires 90 days after opening.

5. Is your meter set up correctly?

*Some meters have setting for negative numbers and different languages. They
may also have variable memory and clearing settings, which can impact which readings you can recall, and how they show up on the screen.

With these simple trouble-shooting tips, and performing routine maintenance, your glucose meter should provide you with accurate blood sugar readings.

What kind of features can I find in a glucometer?

Glucometer Special Features

There are literally dozens of glucometers on the market, each providing the basic function of glucose testing.

But many of these glucometers offer special functions, geared toward improving your ability for self-management of your disease.

Why would these special features be important? Well, it depends on your needs in managing your disease.

1. Rapid results - not long ago meters took 60 seconds to give you results. Now some meters can give you the value in as fast as 5 seconds.

2. Extensive test memory - meters now hold from 75 to 1000 test results.

3. Small sample size - for meters that use larger sample sizes it can be difficult to get enough blood to obtain the reading.

4. Computer download - you can download your blood sugar readings directly into

your computer.

5. Alternate site testing - allows you to get samples from your forearm, thigh, earlobe or base of your thumb.

6. Tracking of blood glucose - shows you your blood sugar readings on a graph, or gives you the average over 7, 14 or 28 days.

7. Automatic calibration - so long calibration key or check strip.

8. Automatic test strip loading - no fumbling with the little test strips.

Take a look at what is important to you and what you need in a glucose meter. Keep in mind your lifestyle and goals will help you make the right choice in glucometers, with the right special features for you.

Is there a glucometer than can sample and test my blood in one step?

The "All-In-One" Glucometer

Abbott-Laboratories has recently come out with the Precision Sof-Tact. Designed to be used with alternate testing sites - your forearm, thigh, upper arm or base of your thumb - the Sof-Tact is advertised as virtually pain-free.

According to the manufacturer, you just load the strip and lancet, press one button, and the glucometer does the rest. You can even load the strip and lancet up to 8 hours in advance, for convenient portability.

It will store up to 450 test results, provides average glucose results for the last 7, 14 and 28 days, and the blood glucose meter readings can be downloaded to most office or home computers, with the accompanying software.

The Sof-Tact has a large viewing screen, and the activation button is large enough for persons with neuropathy to manage without difficulty.

Check with your pharmacy for information regarding the Sof-Tact. Talk to your physician or Diabetic Educator to see if Sof-Tact is the right meter for you.

Will my glucometer support alternate site testing?

Glucometers and Alternate Site Testing

An alternate testing site can be an important factor in choosing a glucose meter.

There are many glucometers made today that do allow for alternate site testing, although many others do not. If you are considering using alternate site testing, you need to know if your current glucometer will support such testing.

Of the currently available meters for blood glucose testing, the following allow for alternate site testing:

* LifeScan Duo

* LifeScan OneTouch FastTake

* LifeScan OneTouch Ultra

* LifeScan OneTouch UltraSmart

* Freestyle

* Freestyle Flash

* BD Logic

* Ascensia BREEZE

* Ascensia CONTOUR

* Ascensia DEX 2

* Ascensia ELITE XL

* Accu-Check Active

* Accu-Check Compact

* Precision Sof-Tact

Remember to include these other important factors when you make your final choice:

* strip size - can you handle it?

* meter screen - can you see it?

* special features - downloading values

* ease of use - is it user-friendly?

Your Diabetic Educator, Endocrinologist or Primary Care Physician can help you find the right meter for you, out of all of the available "alternatives!"

You can also contact the company that makes your current glucometer for information on newer models, different styles or additional features.

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Barbara Gibson