Ever wondered how much you’ve spent all these months or years to test your blood sugar levels at a diagnostic lab? Needless to say, these tests are quite expensive especially if done frequently. Besides costs, it is also inconvenient to visit the lab or clinic time and again. This is when a glucometer comes in handy. Using a glucometer at home for monitoring your blood glucose avoids the hassle of travelling and is also cost-saving. Additionally, regular blood glucose monitoring using this portable device is a crucial aspect of managing type 1 or type 2 diabetes since it helps you determine which activities and food choices can spike your blood glucose levels. You will figure out which food or activity is triggering your blood sugar levels.
What you eat today may not affect your blood glucose readings, so the results will show normal. However, what you eat tomorrow may increase your blood glucose level. Checking for this everyday using the glucometer will therefore help to prevent long-term complications such as stroke, heart attack, amputation, kidney failure, and blindness.
Things and Supplies to Keep Ready Before Using a Glucometer
Before you start checking your blood glucose levels using a glucometer, ensure you have the necessary things or supplies within reach. This will help you save time and make the process seamless. No confusion, no last-minute running about.
- Water and Soap OR an alcohol prep pad
- A test strip
- A lancing device with a new lancet
- Just in case your glucometer doesn’t have the feature to store blood glucose readings, then you’ll need a notebook and pen to note the results. Else, you can use Notepad on your laptop/PC and save the file there.
How can you minimise lancet pain while monitoring blood glucose?
If you are experiencing pain while using a glucometer, then the following tips will definitely help you to minimise the pain.
1. Adjust the setting of the lancet device
In order to make the poke less deep, you can change the settings of your lancet device. You can set the lancing device to a 2 or 3. Then you can go up to a setting that provides a good-size sample with less pain.
2. Utilize a new lancet
Using a fresh lancet is crucial for maintaining hygiene. Also, note that repeatedly using the same lancet can dull it, thereby, resulting in making the pokes more painful.
3. Change the thickness of the lancet
Consider changing the thickness of the lancet to know if it works better for you and to see if it gives you better results. For instance, a 21-gauge lancet may give you better results than a 30-gauge lancet and vice versa.
4. Change the location of the pokes
Keep alternating the position of the pokes. For instance, you can use the left side of a finger once then switch to the right side before moving on to another finger and so on. This will give that particular spot time to heal before you poke it again.
Using a glucometer for blood glucose monitoring is definitely not rocket science. However, following the rules and understanding how to use the glucometer effectively is crucial for obtaining appropriate results. Ensure you follow the instructions provided by your doctor regarding the timings of checking your blood sugar levels as well as the frequency.
Step-by-Step Process to Use a Glucometer Effectively
Generally, every glucometer comes with its own instruction manual. However, we have put forth a step-by-step process which is generally followed to use glucometers.
- Firstly, washing your hand thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol prep pad is a must. Ensure your skin dries completely before you begin using the glucometer. This is because moisture can dilute the blood sample that you take from your finger. Keep in mind not to blow your fingers to dry them since this can cause germs to get onto your hands.
- Next, by inserting a test strip, turn your glucometer on. Simply check the screen of the glucometer. This will alert you when it is time to add the blood sample to the strip.
- Using your lancing device, pierce the side of your fingertip right next to your fingernail. As a matter of fact, piercing this spot hurts less as compared to piercing the pad of your finger. In order to produce an adequately sized blood drop, you need to squeeze the pierced spot.
- Once you get an adequately sized blood drop, simply place the blood sample on the test strip.
- To stop the bleeding, you can use and push it against the pierced skin. Simply wait for a few seconds and there you go; your glucometer will display the results.
- Don’t forget to keep track of your results. You can record them for your benefit and will also help your doctor to create a suitable treatment plan. The best and most convenient way of storing your blood glucose readings is by syncing your glucometer to the app on your smartphone. Else, you can note down the readings and save them in Notepad. Nowadays, some glucometers are also creatively designed to enable you to store the readings on the glucometer itself.
- Lastly, dispose of the used test strips and lancet.
Get an A1C Test
Getting an A1C test at least twice a year is a must since it lets you know what’s your blood sugar level over three months. Some need to do the test more often; for instance, 3 or 4 times a month. It is best to ask your doctor how often you need to do it. Note that A1C test results may differ for people with haemoglobin problems like sickle cell anaemia. Simply follow your doctor’s advice and all that he/she recommends since they know your case well.
The result of your A1C test will be reported in the following two ways:
- A1C in the form of a percentage.
- Estimated average glucose (eAG). This will be in the form of numbers just as your blood sugar readings show daily.
After you do the A1C test and get your reports, if the results are too low or too high, then your diabetes care plan may need little alteration or adjustment.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Using a glucometer for monitoring your blood glucose levels will help you know why the numbers (readings) are going up or down. Your doctor or healthcare team will be able to work on your diabetes care plan feasibly, with the help of this information i.e. your daily blood glucose records. Do share this guide to using a glucometer with your family members, friends, neighbours and loved ones. Every piece of information can help those in need. Don’t forget to focus on nutrition, healthy meal choices, portion control, exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, indulging in physical activity, and reducing stress.