Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common long-term diseases which causes an increase in blood sugar (glucose) levels. Glucose is required to provide energy for our day-to-day work but if it’s levels increase and remain increased for a long time then it starts affecting our other organs like kidneys, eyes, heart etc. A National Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy Survey report released by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, stated that during 2015-2019 the prevalence of diabetes in India has remained at 11.8% in the past four years and it had more number of males (12%) in comparison to females (11.7%).
Knowing how diabetes impacts our body, it is important for a diabetic to listen to his/ her body and take good care of it. This can be done by adapting a few habits like regular Doctor consultations, proper diet, daily physical activity and most importantly, regular monitoring of blood sugar levels through lab tests and glucometer readings.
Glucometer is the best gift of technology for diabetics. It helps in measuring sugar levels at home so a person does not have to go to the labs frequently. This further helps in managing it in a better way especially in the cases of low or high sugar episodes. Before or while using a glucometer, we usually have some doubts about it but don’t stress it as this article will answer all your questions.
What is a Glucometer?
A glucometer is also known as a Blood Glucose Meter. It is a medical device that measures the estimated level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. This small electronic device can be carried by anyone easily. Due to it’s instant results and easy to use methods, people can use it to measure their blood sugar levels at home with a single drop of blood.
Glucometer comes along with test strips and lancet. Test strips are thin plastic strips which look simple but are complex as they contain a chemical that reacts with glucose in the blood to create a current. The glucometer reads the current and your blood sugar value is shown on the screen. Lancet is a needle attached to a lancet device and looks like a pen. It helps in pricking a small hole in the finger with very less pain. The blood comes out from the pricked area and one has to put a single drop of blood on the strip that is inserted in the glucometer to get the reading.
How to Use a Glucometer?
Some people are afraid of using glucometer as they are required to prick their finger on their own which scares them. But do not worry as it doesn’t hurt that much and causes no or very less pricking sensation. One can easily use it in a way mentioned below:
- The first step is to wash your hands properly with a mild soap or sanitize with an alcohol swab to maintain hygiene and prevent any infection or false reading.
- Turn on the glucometer and place a fresh strip in it as per directions.
- Make sure your hands are dry before pricking your finger.
- Prick at the tip of finger (prefer middle or ring finger) with the help of a lancet. Warm hands help in easy flow of blood so one can rub fingertips or wash with warm water before pricking. It is also suggested to keep alternating your hands and fingers for testing.
- Place the first or second drop of blood on the strip.
- Glucometer will take a few seconds to calculate the amount of glucose present in blood and will show the value on the screen.
- Wipe off the pricked area with an alcohol swab again to prevent the infection.
- Make sure to use a new strip always to check blood glucose reading.
What are the Benefits of Using a Glucometer?
There are some important benefits when it comes to using a glucometer:
- Tracking Sugar Levels: It helps in checking and tracking the sugar levels at any time of the day which in turn, helps us to work on HbA1c and medicine reduction and changes in insulin units.
- Right Treatment: It helps in treating high or low sugar levels in a better way to prevent any further issues like numbness or tingling in feet, frequent hunger, thirst or urination, weakness and tiredness, sudden shivering and sweating, increased heart beat etc.
- Better Guidance: Knowing the blood sugar level trend is not only helpful to the individual but to the Doctor and Dietitian as well because both of them will be able to guide better when they know which sugar levels have to be worked on.
- Easy to Use and Carry: With its simplicity and small size, it has become easier for people to check their sugars at home. From an aged person to someone who is busy and can’t go to the labs frequently, all can use a glucometer to know how well their body is working.
- Budget/ Pocket Friendly: Glucometer is a one-time investment. Since they work on batteries and chargers, once you have bought it, an ideal glucometer works for years and years. So, no need to pay for the lab tests on a weekly or monthly basis. But it must be kept under suitable conditions like away from direct sunlight, water, cold temperature and must be cleaned regularly.
- Accuracy: Glucometer values might not be highly precise but still the reading is close to the actual value. With the growing technology, glucometers are getting advanced and are comparatively showing better accuracy now.
How to Store Glucometer Strips?
Glucometer strips should be stored in their respective airtight container. The reason behind this is that the strips have some kind of chemical that helps in estimation of glucose in blood so if we do not keep them in an airtight container then the chemical may get damaged and won’t give accurate reading. Also make sure not to keep them under high temperature, moisture and humidity as that can also damage the strips.
What are the Important Factors while Using Glucometer Strips?
Important factors to remember while using glucometer strips are:
- Keep a check on the expiry date of strips so that you will not get false reading.
- Some people insert the strip wrongly so always see for the directions mentioned on them.
- Always wash your hand properly and dry them before handling the strips.
How often Should we Change Lancet?
“Is there any requirement to change the lancet every time after use?”
Well lancet is used to prick your finger to get the blood drop, it is not at all required to change the lancet every time you are pricking your finger. As if one is measuring sugar levels 2-3 times a day or more than that then it is quite impractical to change the lancet many times a day. But yes, if more than one person is using the glucometer then it becomes very important to change the lancet as use of the same lancet by more than one person is not recommended.
Which is the Best Glucometer in India?
Well all the glucometers available in the market works on the same principle, that is to calculate the sugar levels in blood. So one can purchase glucometer of any brand which meets the ISO 15197:013 standards of accuracy. Some famous brands available are Dr Morepen, Accu Chek, Contour Plus, One touch etc.
What is the Usual Glucometer Price?
This blood sugar testing machine ranges from ₹300 to more than ₹2,000. It’s price depends on it’s features, brand, model, etc available with them. Features of a glucometer vary depending on measuring time, measuring range, memory, battery used, display type (manual, digit or digital), dimension and requirement of minimum blood sample etc. Sometimes price also depends on the number of strips and lancets available with it, the warranty of the product and it’s ability to connect with a mobile application.
What is the Usual Glucometer Strips Price?
Glucometer strips price typically starts from ₹220 and goes to approx ₹1,000. This majorly depends on the number of strips available in it. A glucometer strips box costing ₹220 will contain 10 strips whereas a strips box costing ₹1,000 or more will contain approx 500 strips in it. The measuring range and brand are just other factors affecting the strips price.
Do I need to Buy a Glucometer?
If possible, a diabetic should buy a glucometer to regularly check and keep a track on their blood sugars. This will help in planning the medicine regime, exercise routine and food intake as per the sugar level trend noted through the help of a glucometer. So, to plan ahead, it is important for him or her to have a glucometer with themselves and check blood sugar levels at least twice weekly.
What are the Things to Make Sure Before Buying a Glucometer?
- Buying a product which has the machine and the strips, both available with it will cost a little less than buying a machine and strips separately.
- It must fulfill ISO 15197:013 standards of accuracy. This can be easily checked in the description of the products available online or you can check this information on the box of the glucometer when you go to the shop to buy it.
- Choose the glucometer whose strips are easily available in your area. In this way, an individual won’t experience any difficulty in buying strips in future.
Can a Glucometer Diagnose Diabetes?
Well, a glucometer can help in assessing whether the sugar levels are under normal range or high. If sugar levels are shown high in the glucometer, then further testing is required to assure if the patient is diabetic or not. HbA1c test is required to confirm whether the person is diabetic or not.
Fasting Sugar Test and Normal Range?
FBS stands for Fasting Blood Sugar. When we measure blood sugar levels at home with a glucometer then we can consider 90-120 mg/dl FBS as normal. If we are getting it assessed in the lab then the normal range varies as per the estimation method used during the test and so we must refer to the provided range.
FBS should always be checked in the morning after waking up (empty stomach) and a gap of minimum 8 hours should be maintained after dinner. One can take only drinking water in between.
Some common mistakes that people make are: measuring fasting sugar after taking bed tea in the morning or after performing in their morning physical activity or sometimes, they eat something late at night and don’t maintain 8 hours of fasting.
PPBS Test and Normal Range
PPBS stands for Post Prandial Blood Sugar. A level of below 180 mg/dl is considered as normal PPBS when measured with a glucometer. It should be measured after 2 hours of meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). People make the mistake of measuring it after 1 hour or after 3 hours or sometimes they eat something between their meal and measurement of PPBS which is incorrect.
Which Finger is Best for Glucose Testing
It is always advised to use the middle finger or ring finger to test the sugar levels. The reason behind this is because the middle finger and ring finger has a different padding than the other fingers. So when we prick the middle and ring fingers it hurts less. The padding of the little finger is comparatively thin so pricking may cause deep cuts and could be more painful. The forefinger and thumb has more veins that can get damaged so not advised to prick frequently.It will also hurt more on the thumb and forefinger.
When to Use a Glucometer?
Usually a glucometer must be used at least once to thrice weekly to check any one sugar level in a day and that can be either fasting, postprandial, before meals or random blood sugar level. An individual must also check sugars as advised by their Doctors. Keeping a track of these sugars will let us know which sugar level we need to work on.
A glucometer must be used more often when blood sugar levels are very high or very low or when an individual involves in heavy physical activity. This is very important as timely management is very much required in such cases.
Does Glucometer give Accurate Results?
Few people don’t trust glucometer as it shows few points more than the lab test reading. Well this is true! But it doesn’t mean that glucometer is showing you inaccurate results. The difference between the two readings is due to the fact that in labs, blood samples are taken from veins and at home we take samples from our fingertip i.e capillary. So this is the only reason that at home glucometer shows a higher value than a lab reading. Difference can be 10-30 points. So one can easily use glucometer to check the sugar levels and that will be the correct reading.
Now that we know what a glucometer is, how and when to use it etc, why not make it a habit of checking our blood sugar levels at home! Since it has more benefits than faults, it is advisable that every diabetic must have a glucometer with him or her and measure their sugar levels at least twice weekly for a better management of their health.
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