Glucometer is a revolutionary device for diabetics. But what are the complications of using it? Here is how to do it safely!
writing Dr. Deep Dutta
Diabetes has gained the status of a potential epidemic in India with more than 62 million diabetic individuals currently diagnosed with the disease. This puts India on the global map for the wrong reasons of being the global capital for diabetes. Campaigns towards increasing awareness and steps taken to facilitate the implementation of screening and early detection programs, diabetes prevention, selfmanagement counseling, and therapeutic management of diabetes are being conducted.
Diabetes is a disorder in your body in which your blood glucose/ sugar levels are not regulated. Everything we consume in food items contains sugar. Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreases whose role is to ensure that the blood glucose values are maintained in the narrow safe range of 70- 140mg/dl. Insulin has a major role in ensuring that the excess glucose in the blood is stored in liver, muscle and fat tissues of the body. Diabetes occurs whenever there is a deficiency in insulin production in the body or the insulin produced is not able to work properly (insulin resistance). This results in the blood sugar levels to go up, which eventually spill over into the urine leading to symptoms related to this condition i.e. increased hunger, increased thirst, pain in the calf muscles, unwarranted fatigue and listlessness. If unregulated or uncontrolled over time, increase in glucose levels can cause serious problems like heart disease, stroke and even amputation of a limb in extreme cases. The global rise of obesity and physical inactivity is widely believed to play a crucial role in increasing incidence of diabetes.
Home blood glucose monitoring has been a silent but a landmark revolution in the management of the global diabetes epidemic. It empowers the patient by allowing him/her to use the gluco-monitor to check the status of their blood glucose at any time of the day. This gives them a better understanding of his/her disorder state, and know how his/her body reacts to different food items with regards to blood glucose fluctuation, helping the patient in making a more educated diet regime plan. Studies have shown that diabetics who regularly monitor their blood glucose at home have a better glycemic control, feel more empowered, confident and happy in life, have a lesser incidence of depression, and overall having a positive impact on the quality of life. However, there are potential issues and challenges associated with glucometers used at home.
Unless patients are fully trained by their endocrinologist before starting to use the glucometer, they are bound to face challenges. It is important that you know how to use the glucometer as you will be using this equipment for a long period and should avoid any/all risks. The needles that are used should be disposed off safely. It is preferable to use only one glucometer and not change the brand you use. Different brands may give different results. The test strips listed by the manufacturer should be used for the particular device that you are using. When you purchase a new pack/box/ container of glucose test strips, always check the calibration of the glucometer and check the expiry date of the strips.
The level of accuracy of the glucometer can have varied results if the test strips are to the moisture in the air. Make sure that the lid of the test strips is sealed tightly. Any dirt on your hands can also influence the results, wash your hands before testing and use a cleaning swab before pricking your finger. Apply the correct amount of blood to the test strip. If the blood sample is too little, there could be errors in the result. Each glucometer requires different amount of blood, it is important to read the manual carefully before using. You should change the needle or lancet in the pricking pen every three days at least. But this is to be followed only if the pen is used by a single individual. In case you are going through a condition of hypoglycemia or low sugar levels in your body resulting in shivering, confusion in the mind, excessive weakness or lack of coordination between your responses, then please get someone else to check your sugar levels. Blood glucose meters are sensitive to temperature and altitude differences. In these conditions, do not ignore any symptoms you may have even if you obtain a normal reading. It must be noted that glucometers are most accurate for blood glucose values between 60-160mg/d. The readings tend to be less accurate for very high and very low blood glucose values.