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Do you know the code? Why coding is important

Making you sure you take regular, accurate glucose level readings can provide both you and your healthcare providers with valuable information about how a diabetes treatment plan is working and how factors like stress, food, exercise and medications are impacting your condition.

One way to be sure your blood glucose monitor is giving you accurate results is through making sure its updated, or coded, every you use a new batch of test strips. Though not all meters require coding, taking this extra step can be an essential part of ensuring accurate test results.

What is coding?

According to information from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), coding is the processes of ensuring your glucose monitor can recognize a batch code encrypted in each test strip. Some blood glucose monitors recognize the code automatically upon the insertion of a test strip, but glucose monitors require you to do some of the work, called 'coding.' This is usually done one of two ways:

  1. By manually pushing buttons or keys to match a specific code included with a new batch of test strips
  2. Inserting a special chip or key into your meter and making sure the code that appears on the meter matches the code on your test strips.

Coding is essential for ensuring accurate results. Failure to properly code or calibrate your glucose monitor could lead to erroneous test results, which could lead to serious complications. Just like the rest of your diabetes testing tools, using them properly will give the most reliable results.

Is an auto-coding meter for you?

There are a wide range of meters on the market today, such as the Abbott FreeStyle Lite, the ReliOn Micro and AgaMatrix WaveSense Jazz, that don't require any coding on the user's part. The ADA suggests these types of meters can be a good idea because of their ease of use. There's one caveat, though: As of a June 2010 report, there is no industry standard for use of the term 'auto-coding' in glucose monitors. That means that if you want a meter that only requires you to prick a finger, insert a test strip and then get a reading, it might be a good idea to consult the manufacturer's information to ensure no other steps are required. In fact, makers of some auto-code or no-code meters still suggest double check the code that displays on your meter against the code on the box of test strips.

If you still have questions about what kind of meter is best for you or if you're getting the most accurate results, talk to your doctor or a member of your diabetes care team.

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About Laura 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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