meters, how do you know if they aren't being as accurate?

By christine273 Latest Reply 2012-11-16 13:20:07 -0600
Started 2012-11-02 13:57:41 -0500

hi everyone! does your meter ever maybe give you crazy numbers and you're like 'woah this really can't be my blood sugar?!' my meter has been saying one minute it's 120, then three hours later, 500, is there anything I can do to see if I can make it more accurate?

22 replies

liquorish 2012-11-16 13:20:07 -0600 Report

Thanks for your question. I have really learned alot from the replies. When my meter goes wacky I change batteries, even if I don't really think that they are bad. I also retest immediately. Liquorish

NiceDiabetes 2012-11-05 21:40:38 -0600 Report

I tend to compare to how Im feeling
If nothing adds up based on the results, how Im feeling, I have about 3 spare meters.
I always think about getting ride of the spares but sometimes they come in handy

IronOre 2012-11-04 08:08:14 -0600 Report

It is possible that your reading can be 500 three hours after it is 120, and it may have nothing to do with the meter.

Set apart
Set apart 2012-11-04 05:59:58 -0600 Report

I usually wash my hands before testing but my work calls for a lot of time on the road so then I use alcohol wipes and hand sanitizers since I am visiting homes and working with young children. I remember once when I got a reading over 200, panicked wash my hands thoroughly and boom I was at 110, I realized I had been careless and my hands probably had something on them! I think sometimes we do things out of habit, but missing one step could cost you a strip and we all know how annoying that can be motto mention costly!

maclover1524 2012-11-04 05:21:51 -0600 Report

I listened to Dr. Bernstein's webinar the other night where he discussed this very subject. Dr. B wrote the book, "Diabetes Solution" that changed our lives so I am very alert at any thing this man says. According to his book, you should wash your hands with soap and water before testing. Again the soap should be fragrance free. Remember you have a plethora of germs on your skin at all time and one that would love to get in is staph. You don't want a staph infection whether you're diabetic or not. Alcohol tends to create callus' on your fingers.

Getting back to the topic… on his webinar this week, Dr. B advised that the Aviva AccuCheck glucometer strips had changed about a year and a half ago. It had to do with an FDA ruling that changed the chemistry on these strips. Dr. B says that they are now simply not accurate. The ADA doesn't have a problem with them however, with these new AccuCheck "Plus" strips you are looking at plus or minus 20% accuracy which means that your reading on the Plus strip could be 70 mg/dl when it is actually 40 mg/dl or even 30 mg/dl. this could be a life threatening issue. Dr. B further said that there is no way to get the old AccuCheck strips here in the U.S. that he knows of. He believes that as of this week, Aviva meters are the best glucometers. Canadian pharmacies will sell you the original type of Aviva AccuCheck test strips. These strips are as close to accurate as you can get. If you do go the route of Canadian pharmacies, Dr. B suggested that you call them and talk to them before ordering online. And make sure they are authorized to ship to the U.S.

JSJB 2012-11-03 16:13:55 -0500 Report

Had one this morning that was 138. Immediatley tested on other hand and got 97. First reading I washed my hands with hot water the second I used alcohol wipe.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-11-02 16:46:35 -0500 Report

I don't use any alcohol on the finger you are going to test as the residue can mix with the blood and change your reading. Wash your hands in soap and warm water and use a soap that is fragrance free. I don't even use hand sanitizer before testing. Rinse hands well and pat dry then test.

What did you eat prior or drink between testing?

JSJB 2012-11-03 16:16:23 -0500 Report

I have been washing or scrubbing my fingers with hot water only and all readings have been below 110. Every now and then when I am sloppy it goes above 125.

christine273 2012-11-02 17:02:47 -0500 Report

the Jolsin center told me to use alcohol pads and just blow on it till it dries, they want me to do that. they have since say one. & I didn't eat or drink anything besides water because I was at soccer.

DeanaG 2012-11-03 09:31:11 -0500 Report

I was told in my diabetes self management classes to wash my hands with soap and water.
Not only can the alcohol throw you numbers off, it also causes more pain when you lance your finger.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-11-02 17:18:37 -0500 Report

I was told the same thing by a nurse. She said it will prevent germs from getting in my system. I asked her if she was sane because I picked up thousands of germs walking out in public before entering this building where I picked up even more. I found out the alcohol throws off the numbers. I asked people who are diabetics and they told me that it could throw off my numbers so I tested the theory and they were right. What they don't tell you is that even blowing on it to dry or letting it air dry still leaves residue from the alcohol behind on your skin. Washing your hands with soap and water before testing isn't going to hurt you at all. Some things you have to try on your own to learn what will happen.

christine273 2012-11-02 14:34:55 -0500 Report

I didn't eat or drink anything besides water abuse I was playing soccer, and I wipe my finger with an alcohol pad before I test every time

jayabee52 2012-11-02 16:41:45 -0500 Report

just using the alcohol pad could throw off your BG readings especially if you don't let your finger dry.

But from 120 to 500 seems a mighty big jump. Did you try a different strip? Had you tested your meter with the control solution? How old were the strips? Was your meter coded properly for the strip?

just thinking of things which could possibly throw off your meter.

Kirla 2012-11-02 14:33:21 -0500 Report

Meters are only about 80% accurate. Your reading can be off as much as +/- 20%. What did you eat or drink to get your blood sugar to go from 120 to 500. The 120 looks ok but the 500 isn’t to good. I would suggest you test again after getting such a reading. I have gotten reading as low as 30 and when I tested again it was more like 80 something. Sometimes we get a bad test strip. If you don’t wash your hand maybe you had something sweet on them. I rarely wash my hands before testing and haven’t to date had a problem with dirty hands affecting my reading but many people claim they have gotten bad reading by not washing there hands.

IronOre 2012-11-04 08:05:32 -0600 Report

Yes meters are only accurate within 20%, but that can be interpretted in more than one way.
In your second sentence you say + - 20% , which gives a 40% tolerance zone.
I interpret "within 20%" as the readings being + - 10% , which matches what your first sentence states as "80% accurate".
I have tried to find out what is true as far as the accuracy of the meters goes, but I haven't been able to find out.
It makes me cringe when I read how low people are trying to get their readings, and how much they trust these meters.

Kirla 2012-11-04 09:43:27 -0600 Report

Point well taken. I have always seen it displayed as +/- 20%. But it may be the other way. I tried to do a google search and got mixed results.

I always read that meters are great for following trends. Like before and after eating. When diagnosed my numbers were well over 300. By eliminating bread and pasta and eating lots of low carb vegetables along with drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day, my numbers slowly dropped into the 200’s, 100’s and after about 6-8 weeks my numbers were close to what I consider normal numbers. The meter was great, allowing me to watch over time how my blood sugar was dropping. Helped reinforce that what I was doing, was helping to control my blood sugar.

I cringe when I see people who get a low reading on there meter with no other systems of going low, who run to the refrigerator and drink a quart of juice in a rush of panic. Then find themselves with the problem of having their blood sugar spike well over 200 and sometimes spiking to over 300. I have twice gotten low readings on my meter and just retested to find the test stripe was bad. I heard a bad test trip can also give higher readings. That’s why it’s always better to test again to make sure. Especially with no other systems of going low.

I’ve read that going low is very rare for people not using insulin or certain pancreas stimulating drugs. I see no reason for most Type 2 diabetics getting their blood sugar as low as possible. My lowest A1C was 5.2. In order to get it that low I regularly got reading in the 60’s. Even the upper 50’s at times. Back then my reading would range between 60 and 100 most of the time. Hardly ever went over 105. I believe trying to go lower wouldn't be practical. I have never got systems of going low. Never want too.

Most doctors from what I have read don’t recommend people going much lower than 90 if using insulin or pancreas stimulating drugs.

But for the rest of us, I see no reason to try and have a range of 70 to 140. Or if you’re concerned about going low, 80-140 or 90-140 may be better for some people.

I used to believe that getting my A1C down below 5 was something to reach for. But now believe that 5.5 to 6.5 might be better for most people.

A lot of people follow Dr. Bernstein’s diet. I think he believes that getting your A1C down to 4.2 to 4.8 is a goal for most diabetics. I think trying to reach such a goal is impossible for most people. I follow a low carb diet most of the time but don’t think cutting my carbs down to 30 a day is healthy for most people. When first diagnosed my carb intake was about 30 to 40 a day. I see no reason for keeping my carb intake down that low for more than a month or two. Then slowly increasing the amount of carbs you eat to somewhere between 70 and 125. Some people may be able to go higher. I average the last time I counted about 100 a day. Works well for me. I may have to cut back a little. Need to lose some weight. But that’s another story.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-11-02 17:21:01 -0500 Report

Very true Kirla. Even wiping your hand with alcohol does not take away lotions or hand creams that have fruit or some kind of sugar based ingredient in them which is why I use soap that isn't antibacterial or fragranced to wash my hands before testing and at times I don't wash them at all.