It’s time for blood glucose meter maintenance

Ensuring your blood glucose (BG) meter is reporting your blood glucose level (BGL) accurately is an important part of helping to manage your diabetes effectively.

If you are unsure whether your BG meter is working properly, consider these simple maintenance tips.

Always wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before checking your BGL. Residue on your hands such as honey can affect your readings.

When using test strips check:

  • that you are using the right test strips for your meter
  • the test strips have not expired
  • they have been stored in a cool dry place. Avoid humid areas such as the bathroom or a hot car
  • your test strips have been stored in their original container and the lid has been tightly closed after each use.

Incorrect storage of test strips is one of the main reasons why a meter might not be reading accurately. Test strips exposed to humidity and expired strips can report incorrect results.

You may be able to check whether your BG meter is reporting accurately using a meter-specific control solution. A control solution is a liquid. A small droplet of solution is placed on a test strip instead of blood. Not all manufacturers’ recommend using control solutions.

A test using a control solution can be performed when:

  • you open a new box of test strips
  • your test strips have been stored incorrectly
  • you think there is an issue with the readings your meter is reporting.

The control solution will report a reading in a range or a value. To determine how to assess the results of your control solution refer to your manufacturer’s instructions.

Control solutions may last only 3 to 6 months once opened. You can obtain control solutions from the meter manufacturer or your pharmacy.

Some final meter tips:

  • Set the date and time on your meter. This will also help your healthcare professional to accurately interpret your readings
  • Change the batteries before they go flat
  • Avoid getting dust or dirt on your meter. If you need to clean your meter, wipe it with a soft, slightly damp cloth.

Just remember there are various reasons why your blood glucose readings might change. Things that can affect BGLs include:

  • food
  • alcohol
  • physical activity
  • illness and pain
  • medications
  • stress

If you are unsure why your BGLs are changing, seek help from your diabetes health professional or contact the NDSS Helpline on 1300 136 588.

By Alison Crow, Diabetes Qld pharmacist and diabetes educator

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