How to measure blood glucose levels for accurate results
Whether you’ve just been told you have diabetes, or you’ve been living with the condition for a number of years, knowing how to accurately check your blood sugar (also called blood glucose) at home is an important part of managing your condition.
Knowing your blood sugar levels is the first step towards preventing diabetes related complications and improving your overall health. Self-testing your blood sugar at home with a blood glucose meter can tell you what your blood sugar is in real-time. This information is key for guiding your food choices, how much you eat, your activity level, and, if you take insulin, your next dose. It gives you and your doctor useful information for your diabetes management.
It can help you:
- Identify if your blood sugar levels are high, low, or in-range.
- Follow your progress in reaching your treatment goals.
- Show the relationship that diet and exercise have on your blood sugar.
- Monitor the effectiveness of diabetes medications on blood sugar levels.
- Understand how factors such as illness or stress can affect your sugar levels.
How is the blood glucose level in your blood determined?
Blood glucose is usually measured in two ways:
- Laboratory tests
- Personal blood glucose meters
What’s the difference between a home blood glucose test and a lab test?
Home glucometers use a sample of blood from your fingertip (or alternate site), and then analyze the whole blood, including red blood cells, to determine your blood glucose level.
Lab tests typically use blood from a vein in your arm which is then processed to remove red blood cells, so only the plasma is tested.
Are home blood glucose meters accurate?
When choosing your meter, check that it meets the standards approved by your local regulatory body. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets the standards for manufacturers who produce blood glucose meters in the United States, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) develops standards on a global scale.
According to the FDA, home glucose meter results are considered clinically accurate if the result is within +/-15 percent of a result obtained from a lab test 95 percent of the time, and within 20 percent of lab measurements 99 percent of the time. For example, a glucose meter result of 100 mg/dL could vary from 85 mg/dL to 115 mg/dL and still be considered accurate.
How accurate is the Dario blood glucose meter?
The Dario blood glucose meter is FDA cleared and as such it meets the FDA standards and exceeds the ISO accuracy standards. We take meter and test strip accuracy very seriously, and our smart blood glucose meters undergo rigorous testing and quality assurance procedures to ensure that our users have the utmost confidence in their accuracy and performance. Dario smart glucose meters are compatible with Android and iOS smartphone devices and are approved for sale by the local regulatory bodies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, European Union countries, Australia, and New Zealand.
How to choose the right blood glucose meter for you
There are many types of blood glucose meters (also called glucometers or blood sugar monitors) available for self-monitoring, and it can be quite a challenge understanding which is the right meter for you. Some meters are very basic and show only your glucose reading, while advanced systems like the Dario blood glucose monitoring system come with multiple features, health coaching, and smart apps designed to help manage your diabetes and other chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, weight management and musculoskeletal problems of the back.
The cost of blood glucose monitors and test strips varies, as does insurance coverage, so you should look at your options carefully and decide what best suits you and your lifestyle before deciding which meter to buy.
How easy is it to switch to a new blood glucose meter?
Choosing a blood sugar meter can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. When choosing a meter, it’s important to remember that your first option doesn’t have to be your last. Much like choosing a new car or smartphone, it’s a very personal decision, some people prefer a basic, steady model, and others want to enjoy all the newest features and functionality. At Dario we strive to make your entire diabetes journey the very best experience possible. Our smart app is constantly updated with the most cutting-edge features that are designed to make managing your diabetes easier. And this includes making the move to the Dario blood glucose monitoring system the easiest experience ever. We deliver the Dario meter and test strips directly to your door, and one of our experienced Dario health experts guides you through set up and your first few measurements to make sure you are getting accurate results. You can ask them anything you want – whether it’s about your meter, the app, or your diabetes management – they are here to answer all your questions and show you how to get the best out of the Dario blood glucose monitoring system.
How to check your blood sugar at home for accurate results
When used correctly, over-the-counter blood glucose monitors are usually accurate. It is important that you follow the manufacturers instructions closely and be aware of the following factors to avoid inaccurate meter readings:
- Test strip care
Test strips can be very sensitive to variables. Always check the expiry date of your test strips before checking your blood sugar, as expired test strips could produce a false reading. Keep your strips in the container they came in, do not mix strips from one container into another, and only use the strips approved for your blood glucose meter. Keep your strips away from heat, moisture, and humidity. Throw damaged or expired strips away and do not use strips on another glucose meter, even from the same company.
- Extreme temperatures
The accuracy of your blood glucose meter can be affected by extreme temperature or other environmental conditions. Keep your meter and strips at room temperature. Don’t leave them in the car. Check your meter’s guide to see what temperature range your meter is most accurate at. If your hands are cold, wash and hold them under warm water before taking a test to improve blood flow. If it’s a hot day, make sure you are well hydrated before taking a test. Dehydration can cause a spike in your blood glucose levels.
- Testing in very humid conditions
Humid conditions can affect meter and test strip accuracy. Always remember to close your test strip container after a test and avoid testing in very humid environments like the bathroom.
- Coding mistakes
Inserting a new pack of test strips into your Dario meter is a simple click and go procedure, but other blood glucose meters may need a code to be entered into the meter before testing with a new batch of strips. Inserting the wrong code can affect the accuracy of the result.
- Contamination on your skin
Substances on your skin can end up in your blood sample and then onto your test strip. Since meters like Dario use the smallest sized drop of blood possible, just touching something that contains sugar and not washing your hands after can affect your readings. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well before handling your test strip and pricking your skin.
- Too little blood applied to the test strip
The Dario blood glucose meter only needs a tiny 0.3 microliters of blood applied to the test strip, but other meters can require up to 1.5 microliters. If too little blood is applied to the strip, this can cause an incorrect reading.
Taking certain medications that contain acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), vitamin C, dopamine, and mannitol may affect your blood glucose meter’s accuracy resulting in false high or low readings.
- Testing site location and accuracy
Some blood glucose meters allow you to use blood taken from places such as the forearm and palm of the hand. Blood samples from other sites may not be as accurate as fingertip samples when your blood sugar level is rising or falling quickly. If you’re testing your blood sugar using a site other than your fingertip and you think the reading may be wrong, test again using blood from your fingertip.
Check with your meter’s user guide whether alternate site testing is applicable.
- Stick with one meter
Every meter on the market is different. Manufacturing, chemistry, and calibration processes can differ, even across devices from the same company. If you’re using one meter model in the morning and another at night, your readings can have significant variations.
Blood glucose monitor quality control tests
Quality control test solutions are used to confirm that your meter and test strips are working properly. The solution contains a known amount of glucose that reacts with the chemicals on the meter’s test strip. The result displayed on the meter should fall within the expected range stated on the test strip cartridge label. A result that falls outside of this range may indicate that the system is not performing correctly.
To ensure the accuracy of your meter, you should use the control solution in the following cases:
- If you drop the meter
- If the result is inconsistent with the way you feel
- If you have repeated a test and your blood sugar result is still lower or higher than expected
Always use the control solution recommended for your meter. Contact the manufacturer if your meter isn’t working properly.
Diabetes management made simple
Managing diabetes can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Dario’s blood glucose monitoring system comprises a meter that connects directly into your smartphone and synchronizes with the Dario smart app, bringing you everything you need to succeed at your fingertips. And you can take advantage of our popular membership plans that give you the freedom to test as much as you like – no limitations – with hassle-free, automatic test strip delivery and free refills. All your results are saved in a digital logbook which you can easily share with your healthcare provider, and you have all the additional benefits of a carb counter, weekly progress reports, a vast educational library, and personal health coaching.
Learn more about Dario diabetes management
The articles provided on this website are for informational purposes only. In addition, it is written for a generic audience and not a specific case; therefore, this information should not be used for diagnostic or medical treatment. This site does not attempt to replace the patient-physician relationship and fully recommends the reader to seek out the best care from his/her physician and/or diabetes educator.