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Blood glucose meter basics: What is it and how does it work?

A blood glucose test meter is likely the most important tool used in monitoring diabetes. Regularly checking and tracking blood glucose provides patients and health care providers with valuable information about how a patient's diabetes treatment plan is working. In addition, timely checking reveals how factors like stress, food, exercise and medications are impacting his or her diabetes.

What is a blood glucose meter?

A glucose meter is a device used to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. These devices can measure the amount of glucose in just a small drop of blood and are used in both home and clinical settings. Traditionally, a glucose test meter -- also sometimes called a glucometer -- comes with the meter itself, test strips, lancets to draw blood, a lancing device and a log book to record readings. Today, a rough estimate puts the count at over 75 different glucose meters are available on the market today.

How do glucose meters work?

Glucose test meters work by analyzing blood samples with special chemical used to determine the amount of glucose in the blood. To perform a self-test at home with a glucose meter, a patient should first thoroughly wash his or her hands and dry them completely. Then, a test strip should be loaded into the testing device. Next, a patient will draw a small blood sample with the lancing device and then hold the test strip to the sample. The meter will analyze the blood sample and return the blood sugar level, which can then be recorded.

Before using a glucose meter for the first time, be sure to read the instruction manual for both the meter and the test strips. Your physician, endocrinologist or Certified Diabetes Educator can also provide assistance.

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About Laura L Isaacs

Laura L. Isaacs studied at Indiana University and has worked in print and online media for almost 10 years. Laura has provided health-related content for media outlets including Fox Interactive (via Canvas News and EndPlay). Additionally, she has a family history of diabetes and is passionate about sharing information to help readers cope with this disease.

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