Present day, there is a vast population across the world which has fallen prey to different types of diseases, the most common of which include diabetes, sugar problems, heart problems etc. out of other major diseases.
Speaking from the perspective of an unhealthy person, such people, in an attempt to cure themselves, have developed a habit of consuming medicines and performing check-ups on a regular basis. It is a pervasive habit of human beings to keep track of their fitness and health levels. This tendency is especially given a critical rating when a person is sick.
Hence, to keep a track on their fitness levels, pharmaceutical firms and other tech-driven organizations have developed and launched metering medical devices to enable people to track their fitness level as well as their recovery progress.
One of such meters present in the market is the Glucose meter, which can measure and tell the concentration of glucose in your blood. Apart from this, there are a lot of different meters to check different parameters like insulin, White Blood Cell count, Platelet count etc.
While measuring sugar levels, at least once, you must have doubted the performance of your meter. You must have thought whether the meter is showing the right reading or not? To get an answer to this question, you can go through complex research papers on the internet and understand nothing. Else, you may continue reading the post further to understand the entire thing in layman language.
The actual truth behind the measuring mechanism deployed in your home meters is that it measures the glucose levels in the whole blood, i.e. the blood which comes out of your body. This blood comprises a mixture of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets etc. Hence, the glucose measured is, in reality, the concentration of sugar present in blood as well as plasma.
On the other hand, there are laboratory tests conducted for measuring glucose. They have a completely different mechanism to measure the glucose levels in human blood. According to lab tests, the glucose level measured is only of the concentration present in the red blood cells.
While home glucose meters are calibrated to calculate the glucose levels in plasma only, standard laboratory tests are different from these meters as they eliminate any sort of variation possible in the measurement of the glucose levels.
Now, you must be wondering what exactly the reason behind variation is. Well, to answer your question, I would like to tell you that a variation results from all those factors which are responsible for the generation of glucose level reading on our home meters.
There have been times when you must have observed that the readings of two different meters are also different. For this, the biggest reason for inaccuracy is the measurement strip. Mostly, it is the inaccuracy of the strip which results in overall glucose reading being inaccurate.
Some Reasons for Inaccuracy in Readings
- Calibration of meters including the accuracy of the algorithm used for calculating the blood sugar levels;
- Variation in enzyme concentration present on the strip;
- Varying precision levels and the measurement range of the meter;
- Surrounding atmospheric conditions; and,
- Lack of proper knowledge to use the meter.
The above-listed factors are not all the factors responsible for this inaccuracy. Apart from this, even we are responsible for producing wrong readings. This is because the concentration of sugar is different in the drops of blood which you squeeze out for measuring. The concentration eventually reduces as more and more blood comes out.
To tackle this problem, the laboratory meters come with a degree of error of about ±4% around the actual reading. This degree of error may vary from one meter to the other, which is why different glucose meters produce different results. For some meters, the quality of strips is different, while for some, the measurement algorithm is different. As such, there is no single glucose meter which can claim to tell you your exact sugar level present in the blood.
To conclude this post, all I can say is that glucose meters can tell you a reading, which it says is the sugar level concentration present in your blood. But I cannot guarantee that the reading which it shows is cent percent accurate in all senses.
Whether you buy the best glucose meter of X brand or Y brand, there will always be a gap present between the actual sugar levels present in the blood and the measured blood sugar levels. And after going through the factors responsible for producing variations in readings, it is hard to say whether glucose meters can measure blood sugar levels or not.