Health Information: Blood Glucose Meters
A Blood Glucose Metre is an instrument used by a person with
diabetes to monitor his/her blood glucose level.
Regular measurement of blood glucose levels allows a person with
diabetes, in consultation with their Health Professional, to
determine the dosage of insulin or tablets and the amount of food
and exercise required to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. For
more information regarding the benefits of blood glucose monitoring
and the factors which influence blood glucose levels, see the Blood
Glucose Monitoring topic. A blood glucose monitoring kit contains:
Blood Glucose Metre; reagent strips; control glucose solutions to
test the accuracy of the monitor; lancet devices for taking blood
from the fingers and; alcohol pads to degrease and wipe the site
where the finger is pricked.
HOW TO TEST
The technique for testing blood glucose levels involves putting a
drop of blood from a finger prick onto a special strip impregnated
with enzymes which react with the glucose in the blood. The strip
may be read by comparing its colour to a colour chart, or
automatically in a blood glucose Metre. Results are recorded in a
book which should be taken to the Doctor on each visit. It is
important to remember that if the technique used is not accurate,
or tests are not timed precisely, the results will not be correct.
Also, only certain strips can be used with Blood Glucose
The key points to remember about testing are to get a good drop of
blood, time accurately, remove blood correctly (not all Metres
require the blood to be removed and check the Metre
It is important to assemble all equipment before commencing a blood
glucose test. All equipment should be cleaned and stored after use.
To obtain a drop of blood;
- Wash and dry hands thoroughly. (In cold weather, it may best to
run warm water over the finger before testing.)
- Squeeze blood towards the tip of the finger.
- Prick confidently with the lancet on the side of the fingertip.
An automatic finger pricking device may be used.
- Squeeze towards the end of the finger until a large drop has
formed. It may help to hang the hand downwards if experiencing
difficulty, and to warm the hands by rubbing together before
performing the test.
Complete the test according to the system chosen. Do not use the
same finger for every test and do not prick the pads of the
fingers. The ear lobes may be used, although it is difficult to
apply the blood to the strip without assistance. The feet should
never be used, except in the case of infants where blood can be
obtained from the heel. Finger pricks are almost painless if an
automatic finger prick device is used. These devices are easy to
use, are spring loaded and durable if taken care of. Most people
prefer to use this type of device rather than the lancet alone.
Lancets should be used once only and discarded into an approved
sharps container. Never put used lancets
or needles into general rubbish bins.
There are a variety of strips available which provide acceptable
accuracy provided the timing is accurate and the strips are used in
accordance with the manufacturer's directions. Strips can be
damaged if exposed to heat, light or moisture. It is important to
keep the container tightly capped with the packet of chemicals (the
desiccant) inside. Store the strips at room temperature. The expiry
date which is stamped on each container should be checked before
use. Strips should not be cut or folded in any way, and they can
only be used once.
TYPES OF BLOOD GLUCOSE METERS
Before deciding to purchase a Metre it is wise to examine those
available to determine the most suitable type. It is advisable to
ask for a demonstration of the Metre before purchasing it. There
are two types of Metres available.
- A Metre in which the person places a drop of blood on the reagent
strip, blots it then places it in the Metre where it is read
photometrically or colorimetrically.
- A Metre in which the person's blood is not blotted and the blood
glucose is measured via an electric charge from a computer chip in
the monitor when the reagent strip is inserted. This type of blood
glucose Metre is preferable as it removes a step from the process
and reduces the risk of error by the person using it.
Differences in Blood Glucose Metres currently available
- SIZE - very small Metres are available which are easy to carry
and allow a person to test blood glucose levels discreetly;
- MEMORY RECALL - most Metres can recall several past readings and
some can download reading to a computer so trends can be
- PRICE - Metres which have the capability to download data are
obviously more expensive and require the purchase of software
needed to read and analyse the information.
- CALIBRATION - most Metres have a calibration strip that is
included with each box of reagent strips and the Metre must be
recalibrated for each new box of strips.
MAINTENANCE AND CARE
- Handle the Blood Glucose Metre with care. Dropping the Metre can
- Excessive heat, cold, or humidity can damage the Metre.
- Clean the display window and the test strip guide using a damp
cotton cloth. Do not allow water to get into the Metre. Check the
instructions for specific cleaning directions.
- If the Blood Glucose Metre will not turn on or if it turns off
during use, the batteries may be low or may have run down.
If you have diabetes, you should consult your Doctor for
treatment. Your Doctor may prescribe insulin injections or tablets
called oral hypoglycaemic agents. The correct technique for
carrying out an accurate blood glucose test will be explained by
your Doctor or diabetes educator. If in doubt, continue to ask
queries until you feel comfortable with the procedure. Your Doctor
will give you dietary and exercise advice and will also advise you
how often and when to take your blood glucose reading.
Ask your Pharmacist for advice
1) There are a number of different Blood Glucose meters available
from your Pharmacy.
2) Ask your Pharmacist to recommend the most suitable type of Metre
for your needs and to demonstrate how a blood glucose reading is
taken. Do not purchase a Blood Glucose Metre until you are sure
that you understand how to use it correctly.
3) Remember to check the expiry date on your control glucose
solution. Out of date solutions can give a false reading.
4) Remember to shake the vial of control glucose solution before
using it. This helps to mix the ingredients in the solution
together to give an accurate reading.
5) Keeping a written diary of test results is very important. A
diary helps you and your Doctor to track your blood glucose levels
over a period of time. This will indicate the effectiveness of the
treatment schedule you are currently using.
6) Build-up lint, dirt and blood may affect the accuracy of Blood
Glucose Metres. Regular, thorough inspections and cleaning of all
Metres is essential.
7) Ask your Pharmacist for a sharps
container to dispose of used lancets and needles.
|Organisations & Support Groups|
Contact Diabetes Australia for further information.
ACT (06) 288 9830; NSW (02) 9660 3200; NT (089) 27 8488; QLD (07)
3846 4600; SA (08) 8234 1977; TAS (002) 6234 5223; VIC (03) 9630
0255 ; (09) 425 7699.
THIS IS NOT DIAGNOSTIC INFORMATION. STAY ON PRESCRIBED MEDICINES.
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