In this article, we will delve into glucometers and everything you need to know about them. Whether you’re simply interested in increasing your know-how about glucometers, or have recently been prescribed to use them, this glucometer guide will definitely help you in understanding them better. We hope this article will help clarify some confusions you may have as well as help you choose the best glucometer for you!
What Is A Glucometer?
A glucometer, otherwise known as a glucose meter, is a device used to monitor approximate sugar levels in the blood. They are most commonly small in size and powered by batteries, making them portable and easy to use in any setting. Although the electronic and digital versions of glucometers are used more often, these were not always available. The previous version (which is still used nowadays) was a simple strip of glucose paper that was dipped in a certain substance and measured against a glucose chart, to indicate blood sugar levels.
What Are The Origins Of The Glucometer?
The first-ever version of the glucometer was invented by Anton Hubert Clemens, in 1971. It was a relatively bulky device and functioned quite differently compared to the modern versions of glucometers. The meter and the swinging needle represented approximate sugar levels in the blood, and the test strip (which would reflect light) changed color after a drop of blood was placed on it. Moreover, only medical professionals used to have these devices, which is quite a surprise considering every diabetic patient has one with them at all times nowadays!
When Should You Use A Glucometer?
How often one should use their glucometer depends on what they have been diagnosed with (type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes). Normally, your doctor will let you know all the details of when and how you should use your glucometer, but below are some basic guidelines you may follow:
Type 1 diabetes refers to the condition where your body cannot and does not produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels stable. As a general rule, if you have been diagnosed with ‘type 1’ diabetes, you should be checking your blood sugar levels four to ten times a day. An important rule to follow, however, is definitely to use your glucometer and check blood glucose levels before meals, before exercising, and before bed. In some special cases, you may need to check your sugar levels in the middle of the night. Frequent checks are the key, in this case, to maintain your blood sugar at a normal level.
Type 2 & Gestational Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes refers to a condition where your body exponentially increases the sugar levels of your blood, whereas gestational diabetes refers to the condition where a pregnant woman’s body is not able to produce adequate levels of insulin during the pregnancy. In the case of type 2 or gestational diabetes, you may only be required to use your glucometer two to three times a day (this may vary depending on whether you have been prescribed insulin or not). As a general rule, remember to always test your blood sugar before meals and before bed.
How Do You Use A Glucometer?
If you’ve been prescribed to use a glucometer but your doctor has conveniently forgotten to explain exactly how to do so, do not fret and read on! Although it may seem like an overwhelming and scary task, we guarantee you will quickly catch on after just a few tries. We are aware that instruction manuals are not always very user-friendly (in fact, they’re usually WAY more complicated than they need to be), so we’ve created a step-by-step glucometer guide for you:
1. Wash your hands or disinfect with an alcohol swab
2. Warm your hands to increase blood flow (this may also help reduce the pain of pricking your finger)
3. Turn your glucometer on and insert the test strip in
4. Ensure your hands are thoroughly dry (any moisture may hinder the results of the glucometer)
5. Disinfect the area you will prick
6. Prick your finger at the upper-most part (between the tip of and bottom of the nail)
7. Add a drop of blood to the test strip
8. Wait a few seconds for the results, and write them down
9. Disinfect the area you pricked once more
Factors To Consider Before Using Your Glucometer
To avoid any possible mishaps or if you are using your glucometer for the first time, consider the following factors before use:
1. Use a thin lancet for minimal pain while pricking your finger
2. Ensure your test strips have not expired
3. Use your glucometer’s test strips or test strips specifically recommended for use with your particular glucometer model
4. Screw your test strip bottle’s lid tightly as light or moisture may cause damage
5. Disinfect and clean your glucometer after every use
6. Use the appropriate amount of blood required by your specific device
How Do Glucose Levels Affect Your Body?
When you have a high level of sugar/glucose in your body, it hinders the ability of your pancreas cells to produce insulin resulting in overcompensation by your organs and consistently high glucose levels. This can seriously and permanently damage your pancreas as well as harden your blood vessels (a condition called atherosclerosis).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How long do glucometer results take?
Depending on the glucometer you are using, results can take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute to show up.
2. How can I test my glucometer’s accuracy?
You can test your glucometer’s accuracy by replacing blood with a ‘control solution.’
3. Are glucometers portable?
Most glucometers are small and, yes, portable.
4. Why do glucometers stop working?
A glucometer may stop working for several reasons. Some common reasons include: the glucometer is old, dirty, wet, been exposed to extreme temperatures, etc.
5. How did they check glucose levels in olden times?
Back in the old days, before the concept of glucometers existed, doctors used a ‘urine taste test.’ Doctors noticed that ants were attracted to the high sugar levels in diabetic patients’ urine.
6. Why is it important to wipe away the first drop of blood?
It is important to wipe away the first drop of blood because it has a high number of platelets and may heal before obtaining enough blood for the test.
7. What color is diabetic urine?
Diabetic urine is usually colorless.
8. When are blood sugar levels at their lowest?
Blood sugar levels are usually at their lowest on the day before meals.