HOW TO PREVENT HUMAN ERRORS IN THE PRECISION OF THE GLUCOMETER READINGS?

WASH YOUR HANDS

It is essential to wash your hands well before performing a capillary glycemic control. Food scraps, such as those from fruit, can alter glucose determinations. This will cause us to give incorrect treatment of the glycemia after taking the reading. It is shown that the most effective method of washings your hands is with soap and water. If this is not possible, some people recommend alcohol or disinfectant gel. In those cases in which we do not have soap and water, it is advisable to reject the first drop of blood; so that it drags the remains of dirt or food that may interfere with an accurate reading.

DRY YOUR HANDS

Before performing a determination of glucose, make sure to dry the area well. Excess water or alcohol can dilute the blood sample, which would result in a lower than actual reading.

TEST ON THE FINGERTIP

Some glucose meters take a sample from other areas less sensitive to pain than fingers, such as the forearm or the hand palm. However, these points may not reflect the true values of glucose, because the circulation of blood to the rest of the arm takes longer than to the fingertips. This is especially relevant in situations where blood glucose levels are quickly changing, both rising (after a meal) or dropping (when insulin is reaching its maximum level). Therefore, in case of low sugar levels, or in those patients in whom hypoglycemia symptoms are not detected, it is crucial to check glycemia on the fingertips.

DO NOT SQUEEZE THE FINGER

To control glucose with a capillary meter, it is essential to obtain a sufficient amount of blood. If the strip does not have enough blood, the meter will not show any result. However, pressing your finger is not recommended, as there are some times when a little more of interstitial fluid (it is the substance that is immediately under the skin) goes out, and this can affect the blood sample.

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STORE THE METER AND STRIPS IN A CLEAN AND SUITABLE ENVIRONMENT

When you rely on a “machine” to take important decisions on your health, it is important to ensure that the materials fulfill their function. In general, it is important to protect them from climatic factors such as humidity, heat or cold (for example: leaving your glycemic kit in the car when it is sunny is not the best of ideas). In this regard, the strips are no exception. To avoid incorrect measurements, you must keep them in their pot (do not carry them loose in your pocket or loose in the meter case) and discard the strips when they pass their expiry date.

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PERIODICALLY CARRY OUT QUALITY CONTROL TESTS

Maybe you do not know, but there are control solutions to determine if glucose meters are functioning properly. Glucose aqueous mixtures are designed to control the precision of the glucose meter and its test strips. You can buy them at the pharmacy or on internet; the main thing is that the solution is the one designed for your device and, of course, that it is not expired. Its use is easy: apply a drop of solution on the strip and perform a standard glucose control. On the testing strips’ pot or on the control solution will be indicated the acceptable glucose values. If your meter is not working as expected, you can contact the manufacturer. Usually the company sends you a new one in exchange for the one that does not work.

READ CAREFULLY THE USAGE INFORMATION FOR YOUR GLUCOSE METER

Each manufacturer provides information on the limitations of its strips (drugs that may interfere, temperature range, etc.). Some glucose meters require the entry of a code or a chip with each new pot of strips. If you get the impression that the glucose readings are wrong, and you have one of those glucometers, check that the code or the chip is the correct one for the pot.

Given the importance that the number we see on the screen has in deciding the following appropriate care, it would be advisable to consult qualified medical personnel if your health condition or drug treatment may be affecting the accuracy of the readings.

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IF THE GLUCOSE READING SEEMS STRANGE, CHECK AGAIN

If it seems to you that the glycemia is strange according to the circumstances, whether high or low, stop for a second and re-check blood sugar levels before taking a decision. Remember that it would be advisable to follow all the guidance above.

IF THE HANDS ARE COLD, WARM THEM UP BEFORE PERFORMING A BLOOD GLUCOSE CONTROL

The cold causes vasoconstriction in the capillaries, that means: they constrict and blood flow decreases. This can cause an incorrect blood glucose reading and you will need to repeat the glycemia reading. Washing your hands with warm or hot water before the test will help you to reach the appropriate temperature and so, it will be easier to obtain enough blood without the need to squeeze the finger.

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La Otra Cara de la Insulina reminds you that we are not doctors. If you have any doubts or questions about the treatment to follow, you should consult qualified medical personnel.

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