These five steps will help ensure accuracy when testing your blood sugar levels.
1. Keep readings clean
Wash your hand before sticking your finger to prevent oil, dirt or food particles from affecting the accuracy of the reading.
2. Take care of test strips
Don’t use expired or damaged strips and don’t expose them to extreme heat or cold.
3. Keep control solution fresh
Keep the control solution at room temperature and use it from time to time to test the integrity of your strips.
4. Get a newer meter
The new breed of meter requires only a very small amount of blood, while older meters can give erroneous readings if they don’t have enough blood.
5. Log your readings
Meters can store about two weeks of readings, but physically writing down your readings over a longer period will help you and your doctor recognize patterns in high or low readings and the symptoms that accompany them.
From our sister publication, Diabetes Focus, Winter 2011
Here are additional tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
Read instructions carefully. Read the user manual and instructions that come with your glucose meter and test strips, so you know that you’re using them properly. Your doctor will tell you how often to test your blood sugar levels and what readings you should expect before and after meals.
Only use the test strips that are recommended for your glucose meter. If you use a different brand of test strips than the one recommended, the glucose meter may fail to give readings or may generate inaccurate results.
Know that readings taken from "alternate sites" may not always be as accurate as readings from the fingertips. Readings can vary when glucose levels are changing rapidly. This often occurs after a meal, after taking insulin, during exercise, or when you are sick or under stress.
Use blood from a fingertip rather than an alternate site if... you think your blood glucose is low, you don't normally have symptoms when your blood glucose is low, or the results from the alternate site doesn't match how you are feeling.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Getting Up to Date on Glucose Meters. Updated: February 23, 2009.