Using a blood glucose meter and test strips
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Blood glucose meters and test strips
You can manage your diabetes successfully by testing your blood glucose (sugar) level at home. Blood glucose meters help you do this. However, you need to use them properly for the results to be accurate.
You can find the instructions for using and storing your blood glucose meter, lancing device with lancet (small needle), controls and test strips in the:
- manual for your device
- glucose test strip package insert
- control package insert
These instructions may differ between models or brands. Some manufacturers also provide more information on their websites.
You can ask a health care provider to:
- show you how to take and understand a blood glucose test
- watch you do a test to make sure that you’re doing it properly
A health care provider can also tell you if any of your medications or treatments may affect the test results.
Tips for accurate test results
In Canada, results are displayed as mmol/L, or millimoles of glucose per litre of blood. To make sure your blood glucose tests are accurate, follow these tips.
Tip #1: manual and instructions for use
- read the manual and test strip package insert for information on safety and warnings
- follow the instructions carefully
- test your meter with a control solution regularly, following the instructions in your manual, to make sure it is operating properly
- use only the test strips and controls that are recommended in the manual for your glucose meter
- consult a health care provider or pharmacist if you’re not sure which test strips you should use
Tip #2: hand washing
- wash your hands before the test, making sure no food, sugar or moisturizer is on your skin
- use warm water when you wash to encourage blood flow
- dry your hands well to avoid diluting your blood sample
Tip #3: lancing device and lancets
- use a new sterile lancet for each test
- never share your lancing device with anyone else to prevent the spread of disease
Tip #4: meter use and storage
- use the control solution(s) to test your meter regularly
- store the meter and test strips in a cool, dry place like a bedroom, never in your bathroom
- follow instructions for testing conditions because temperature, humidity and altitude can affect the results
- keep the meter clean and disinfected using the process described in your manual (other methods may harm your meter)
Tip #5: test strips
- make sure they have not expired
- store test strips in their original container at the temperature indicated on the container
- close the cap right after you remove a test strip
- check that the container holding the test strips is not cracked
- use a new test strip for each test
Causes of inaccurate readings
In addition to issues with the meter and test strips, other factors can affect the accuracy of blood glucose readings.
You can get inaccurate readings by:
- not taking enough blood for the test
- not inserting the test strip properly into the meter
- having traces of food, sugar or water on the finger you tested
- performing the test from other areas of the body, such as the forearm or palm (known as alternate site testing)
- testing in these areas can be less accurate than the fingertip, especially after eating or exercising when glucose levels are changing rapidly
Certain physical health issues can affect a reading:
- if you are sick or stressed
A reading can also be affected by:
- substances that contain vitamin C
- the ratio of the volume of red blood cells to the total volume of blood (hematocrit)
- treatments, such as removing waste products from your blood when your kidneys aren’t functioning properly (peritoneal dialysis)
Speak to a health care provider if you’re worried about the accuracy of your blood glucose tests.
You can report any problems you have with your meter and test strips to Health Canada.
To report to Health Canada, you can:
- call toll-free at 1-866-234-2345
- fill out the form below
Report a medical device problem
We review all reports on medical devices and assess the information. We will contact people who report problems to gather more information, as needed.
For more information
Report a problem or mistake on this page
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