Know how to use control solution to keep your blood sugar in check
If you have diabetes, it is important to manage your diabetes through diet, regular blood glucose monitoring and other interventions as directed by your health care professional. If you do check your blood sugar on a regular basis, it is also important to keep your glucose meter in good working order and that you know how to use the control solution for regular glucose meter checks. Failure to perform these checks can result in inaccurate readings and, depending on your medication regimen or instructions for taking insulin, potential episodes of insulin-induced hypoglycemia.
The benefit of regular glucose meter checks is that the control solution contains a known amount of glucose, so the result you get from testing the solution will tell you if the glucose meter and test strips are giving accurate results. Performing these checks is recommended every time you start a new box of test strips, when you change the batteries in your glucose meter and also when you start using a new glucose meter. Other times when you might consider performing a glucose meter check are when the test results do not match how you feel (for example, if you are experiencing symptoms of hyperglycemia but the test results say that your blood sugar is within normal limits) and when the test strips have not been stored properly, resulting in exposure to air or humidity.
To perform the control test, you will need to have the control solution for your glucose meter on hand as well as one or two extra test strips for this purpose. Always store your control solution at room temperature; do not keep it in a refrigerator or freezer. Begin the control test by shaking the bottle so that the contents are evenly distributed. Next, turn on your glucose meter (if you haven’t already) and insert a test strip as if you are about to check your blood sugar. However, instead of sticking yourself, simply place a drop of the control solution onto the test strip and wait the usual length of time for the meter to analyze the “sample.” If the result matches what you know to be the amount of glucose in the solution, you can rest assured that your meter and test strips are in good working order and giving you reliable results. If not, you will need to investigate the cause(s) of the incorrect result. Consider changing the batteries in the meter and replacing the test strips first; if these changes do not result in an accurate reading with the control solution, it may be time to replace the glucose meter.
Performing regular blood sugar checks and getting accurate results are key to managing your diabetes and avoiding complications such as neuropathy (nerve pain in the lower extremities) and capillary damage which can lead to retinopathy, foot ulcers and lower extremity amputations. Knowing your test results from day to day will make it easier for you to keep your blood sugar within normal limits and to take action when needed to get it under control.