Home Healthcare Medical Devices:
Blood Glucose Meters
Getting the Most Out of Your Meter
Testing Your Blood Glucose Accurately
It is important to test your blood glucose (sugar) accurately so you can manage
your blood glucose levels. Keeping your blood glucose under control helps you
feel better and lowers the risk of blindness, kidney disease, and nerve damage.
Tips for Using Your Blood Glucose Meter
Although blood glucose meters are simple to operate, many things can go wrong.
Follow the tips below to get the most accurate results from your blood glucose
Preparing to Test
Read and save all instructions for your meter and test strips.
Watch and practice with an experienced blood glucose meter user, a diabetes
educator, or a healthcare professional. Don't be afraid to ask questions!
Wash your hands. Even small amounts of food or sugar on your fingers
can affect your results.
Read the test strip packaging to make sure the strips will work with
Do not use test strips from a cracked or damaged bottle.
Do not use test strips that have passed their expiration dates.
Make sure you have entered the correct calibration code (if your meter
Test strips may
look alike, but they
are not all the same.
Strips often have very specific chemical coatings or sizes. Even
if an incorrect test strip fits in your meter, it could
Testing Your Blood Glucose
Use the correct blood drop size. If there is not enough blood on the
test strip, the meter may not read the blood glucose level accurately.
Repeat the test if you have any doubts.
Let the blood flow freely from your fingertip; do not squeeze your finger.
Squeezing your finger can affect the results.
Use a whole test strip each time you use your meter.
Insert the test strip into the meter until you feel it stop against the
end of the meter guide.
Even if your meter is supposed to give an
error message when the blood drop is too small, the message may
appear only when the drop is much too small. If the blood drop
is too small, your meter can be wrong without giving an error
Maintaining Your Blood Glucose Meter
Keep your meter clean.
Test your meter regularly with control solution.
Keep extra batteries charged and ready.
Store your meter and supplies properly. Heat and humidity can damage test strips.
Replace the bottle cap promptly after removing a test strip.
Take your meter with you when you visit your doctor so you can compare it with
your laboratory results.
Talk with your doctor or call the manufacturer's toll-free phone number if
you are having problems with your meter.
Note on Alternative Site Testing:
Some blood glucose meters can use blood samples
from the upper arm, forearm, base of the thumb, or thigh.
Using alternative sites gives you more options. But be aware that blood
glucose levels from these sites may not always be as accurate as readings
from the fingertips. Alternative site results differ from fingertip results
when glucose levels are changing rapidly such as after a meal, after taking
insulin, during exercise, or when you are ill or under stress.
Use blood from a fingertip rather than an alternative site if:
- you think your blood glucose is low,
- you don't regularly have symptoms when your blood glucose is low,
- how you feel doesn’t match the results from the alternative
Caution: Not all meters can use blood from alternative sites,
and not all alternative sites are the same. Only test from sites that
are identified in the instructions. Alternative site testing is not for
everyone. Talk with your doctor before you test from a site other than
Recognizing Low and High Blood Glucose
Some people have recognizable symptoms of low or high blood glucose and some
do not. The only reliable way to know when you have low or high blood glucose
is to test it.
When your blood glucose is low, you may feel faint, shaky, dizzy, or confused.
You may begin to sweat. You may have a headache, sudden behavior change, or
When your blood glucose is high, your symptoms may be similar to when your
blood glucose is low. You may feel dizzy or have a headache. You may also feel
thirsty or have an urgent need to urinate.
But many people have no symptoms with low or high blood sugar levels. Other
people have symptoms that change over time, so they no longer recognize them.
Often, older patients or people who have had diabetes for many years stop having
Blood Glucose Meters Are Not Perfect
Although blood glucose meters are generally reliable and help to manage diabetes,
they are not perfect. The technology used in blood glucose meters is not as
accurate as testing done in a hospital or a doctor’s office.
Your blood glucose meter may give a wrong reading if you are dehydrated, are
going into shock, or have a high red blood cell count (hematocrit). Even a very
low blood glucose level can cause an incorrect reading.
If you suspect your blood glucose is too low or too high, call your doctor
or go to an emergency room immediately… even if your meter shows that
everything is fine.
Reporting Problems With Your Glucose Meter
FDA encourages you to report any serious injuries, deaths or malfunctions you
experience with medical products. FDA will take action when needed to protect
the public’s health.
Report the events to FDA at 1-800-332-1088 and to the product manufacturer.