When you come across a disease which requires a thorough control of glycemia, one of the first things you learn is how to use a glucose meter.
Portable glucometers have a number of advantages because of the speed with which the results are obtained and the ease of access for patients. However, they also present a large number of limitations that are often unknown and which may affect the reliability of glycemic control.
In fact, interferences can be a major problem, because depending on the glucometer used and the person, the margin of error in readings can be between 6% and 68%.
Therefore, in addition to choosing a meter that provides as much accurate data as possible, it is also important to learn which factors may hinder the accuracy of it’s readings.
PHYSIOLOGY OF THE PERSON
To measure the amount of “sugar” which is contained in a drop of blood, glucose meters use a enzyme/coenzyme measurement system which is then displayed as a number on the screen. The test strips also contain a large number of components (enzymes, coenzymes, barrier filters, etc).
Depending on the type of glucometer and its method, interferences by many substances may occur:
There are several factors that can influence glycemia readings, such as the state of oxygenation of the person, changes in body temperature, blood disorders, hypotension, etc.
Some agents such as maltodextrin, maltose, ascorbic acid (it is used in some chemotherapy) or mannitol, among others, can also interfere on the readings of the device. Also, some studies show the influence of certain prescription drugs.
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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Glucose meters may be less accurate in conditions of high altitude, extreme temperatures (hot and cold), high humidity or high or low levels of oxygen.
Once you and your glucometer have been able to return to an area of normal temperatures, lower altitudes and normal humidity, it should function properly again.
As a tip, if you need to be in a place
where environmental factors can affect the monitoring of the device,
it would be a good idea to protect it with an insulated container, such as in an airtight bag,
in order to keep dry the glucometer and its strips.
The way to control blood sugar can also reduce the accuracy of measurements, either by: insufficient cleaning of the area of skin from which the blood sample is taken, the area of pricking, the time elapsed since feeding, the current qualify status of the meter and strips, etc.