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Testing: How to Make the Most of Results and Reduce Inaccuracies

We think it’s safe to say that testing is a pain… literally and figuratively. Unfortunately, it’s also a necessity. But what happens when we test and our numbers seem inaccurate? Well, there are a variety of things that could’ve gone wrong. While it may seem difficult to test under perfect circumstances 100% of the time, it’s best to shoot for as many ideal conditions as you can so that finger prick isn’t a waste, and you gather the most accurate and helpful information as safely as possible.

Here’s our guide to testing… the dos and don’ts, and hopefully the solution to the mystery of what’s be causing your inaccurate readings!

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Dos

1. Do test first thing in the morning, before you’ve had breakfast.

2. Do test on the edges of your fingers rather than the pads, and try to avoid drawing from the same finger every day. This should minimize discomfort.

3. Do use the proper supplies: fresh lancets, test strips that aren’t expired and are stored in an uncontaminated, closed container, and a meter that you fully understand.

4. Do learn what your test results mean, and make sure you apply that knowledge to each test. Ask yourself: What have I consumed? How did it affect my numbers? How can I adjust?

5. Use the second drop of blood. If, for some reason, you’re forced to draw a sample without washing your hands (you should still ensure the test site is clean) the second drop could reduce contamination from the alcohol swab or hand sanitizer you might use. While relying upon this alone isn’t ideal under normal circumstances, it could help decrease the chances of an inaccurate reading.

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Don’ts

1. Don’t test right after a meal or snack. Testing sooner than 2 hours after you’ve eaten will result in numbers that are possibly too high. Waiting 2 hours before testing typically renders more accurate results.

2. Don’t forget to dry your hands! Even water can contaminate a test, as it can dilute your blood sample.

3. Don’t deviate from the standard finger prick. Your meter might allow for other test sites, but the finger offers the most accurate results.

4. Don’t squeeze your finger for a sufficient sample. The warm water you used when you washed your hands should do the trick, and you could be damaging the sample by depleting the amount of capillary blood in it.

5. Don’t skip hand washing. Warm water and soap is crucial to getting an accurate reading. The biggest concern is testing with residue left on your hands from handling something sweet (like fruit) prior to testing. Alcohol from swabs or hand sanitizer can also alter your numbers.

Do you have any tips or tricks for testing? Is there anything you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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L.D. and her ten-year-old lab, Eleanor Rigby Fitzgerald, moved to Seattle two years ago from Tucson, Arizona. They chose Seattle because they heard that's where they kept all the good coffee - plus Ella learned about grass. L. De Mello likes books, music, movies, running, and being outdoors as much as possible.