How do you perform the test

If you don't already own a blood glucose meter, be sure to check out the next section. All meters require a drop of blood, usually from the finger. (See the previous section "Using a lancet.") You place the blood on a specific part of a test strip and allow enough time, usually between five seconds and one minute, for a reaction to occur. Some strips allow you to add more blood within 30 seconds if the quantity is insufficient. In less than a minute, the meter reads the product of that reaction, which is determined by the amount of glucose in the blood sample.

Keep the following tips in mind when you're testing your glucose:

1 If you have trouble getting blood, you can use a rubberband at the point where your finger joins your hand. You will be amazed at the flow of blood. Take off the rubberband before a major hemorrhage occurs (just joking).

1 Testing blood from sites other than your fingers is generally reliable, except for an hour after eating or immediately after exercise.

1 Some meters use whole blood, and some use the liquid part of the blood, called the plasma. A lab glucose tests the plasma. The whole blood value is about 12 percent less than the plasma value, so it is important to know which you're measuring. The various recommendations for appropriate levels of glucose are plasma values unless specifically stated otherwise. Most of the newer meters are calibrated to give a plasma reading, but check yours to be sure.

1 Studies have shown that the qualities of test strips, which are loose in a vial, deteriorate rapidly if the vial is left open. Be sure to cap the vial. Two hours of exposure to air may ruin the strips. Strips that are individually foil-wrapped do not have this problem.

1 Do not let others use your meter. Their test results will be mixed in with your tests when they are downloaded into a computer. In addition, a meter invariably gets a little blood on it and can be a source of infection.

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