For millions of diabetics across the United States, utilizing glucose meters to monitor their blood sugar levels has become a daily ritual. Despite the fact that these tools are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, below are some tips to ensure you safely use glucose meters and diabetic test strips in the proper manner.
Below are some safety considerations that every diabetic and or their caretaker should be aware of:
- Perform a quality control inspection: Test the meter periodically through the usage of control solutions to ascertain whether the meter and strip are working correctly. The instructions for doing this can often be seen on the original packaging or the pamphlet that came with it.
- Learn how to interpret your meter display: Knowing how to interpret the numerical values which appear on the meter is extremely important. In some models, they may be displayed as HI or LO whenever a patient’s glucose levels go beyond a range that a meter is capable of measuring. Speak with your doctor for any questions or concerns you have.
- Always cleanse and disinfect the glucose meter: It is absolutely essential to keep your meter cleaned and disinfected, and the instructions for one brand may differ from another, so you’ll want to follow the directions highlighted in the manual. Do not allow another diabetic to use your meter.
- Use the correct test sites for accuracy: While it is possible to obtain readings from multiple areas of the body, fingertip readings are widely regarded as being the most accurate. If you feel that the levels of your blood glucose are too low, getting a fingertip reading is preferable to the palm or forearm.
Reporting issues with your devices: If you feel that your device is faulty or has a problem, the Food and Drug Administration recommends reporting your findings to MedWatch, which is a voluntary reporting system associated with the FDA.
Why You Should Avoid Pre-owned Testing Strips
Because the costs for brand new glucose testing strips have increased in recent years, some diabetics are tempted to save money by purchasing “pre-owned” strips, but this is not advised. Not only are they prone to giving inaccurate results, but they might not be safe. For instance, strips must be stored in a specific manner, and when purchasing them secondhand there is no way to know if they were.
Additionally, if the test strips have been expired for a long period of time, they may give you inaccurate readings which can put you in a life-threatening situation due to health complications related to diabetes. Another hazard of purchasing strips that were previously owned is the risk of coming into contact with foreign blood on the testing strip vials, which greatly increases your chance of becoming infected.
Used testing strips are sometimes tampered with and this can compromise their safety. Some unscrupulous sellers might even alter the expiration dates to deceive buyers. Beware of test strips that look different from most brands or whose instructions are not in English. Always stick to brand new test strips from sellers you trust.