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Tips for Using, Maintaining your Meters

separator When you have diabetes, you need to test your blood sugar levels several times throughout the day. To do this, you need a glucose meter. Most meters require you to do a finger stick with a special needle called a lancet. You get a drop of blood from your finger and place it on a strip that reads the blood sugar level. The meter shows the result on a tiny screen that’s like a pocket calculator. Some of the newest meters allow you to get blood from your arm or thigh, which is less painful than a finger stick.

Most people with diabetes test their sugar levels before meals and at bedtime, but your doctor may recommend a different schedule for you.

Meters for special needs
These days, there are meters that are geared to lot of different needs. For people who don’t see well, there are meters that speak the results or that have large screens. Other meters have colorful test strips that appeal to children. And there are meters that can measure blood ketones in addition to blood sugar. This is helpful for people who have a condition called ketoacidosis, which is a chemical imbalance in the blood.

When using your meter, keep in mind…

  • Wash and dry your hands well before doing the test
  • Keep track of test strip expiration dates
  • Keep the meter clean
  • Make sure the drop of blood you use is large enough
  • Keep a record of your test results, and show them to your doctor.

Talk to a diabetes educator about the best meter for you
Researchers develop new meters so frequently that it can be hard to know if you have the very latest. Check in with your diabetes educator on a regular basis to find out whether there’s a new meter that might suit your needs better than the one you’re using now. Because the easier a meter is for you to use, the more likely you’ll be to test your blood often enough to keep your blood sugar in the healthy range.

American Academy of Family Physicians; Food and Drug Administration, December 2002
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