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Home > Knowledge & support > Managing type 1 diabetes > Guide to type 1 diabetes technology > Blood glucose meters > How accurate is my glucose monitor?
Blood glucose meters, also called finger prick tests, and the sensors in continuous glucose monitors (CGM) or flash monitors take glucose readings from different parts of the blood. Because you draw a small amount of blood when you use a blood glucose meter, it measures glucose in the blood itself – known as capillary blood.
CGM or flash sensors measure the fluid between the blood vessels and cells – this is called interstitial fluid.
Capillary blood and interstitial fluid have different physiological properties. Changes in glucose levels will be seen more quickly in capillary blood than in interstitial fluid. The difference in readings between capillary blood and interstitial fluid is often called ‘lag’.
CGM and flash sensors have algorithms that account for this lag to give an accurate reading.
The accuracy of a CGM or flash sensor depends on the chemistry of the sensor, the algorithm it uses, how it’s calibrated, and the body chemistry of the person wearing it.
If your CGM or flash sensor gives you a reading that you need to act on, for example you need to treat a hypo or take a corrective dose of insulin, check the reading with a blood glucose meter before you take action.
When you check your CGM or flash reading against a reading from a blood glucose meter, the numbers won’t be exactly the same. If the numbers are pretty close, that’s great. If they are very far apart, it’s probably best to rely on the blood glucose meter result.
Blood glucose meters have to meet international standards to provide the best possible readings. Manufacturers also have to assess what substances might interfere with the results.
Like all technology, blood glucose meters aren’t perfect. There are things you can do to get the best and most accurate results from blood glucose meters.
Test strips expire so make sure you throw out any that are old or damaged. They can be affected by heat, moisture and humidity so keep them safely in their original packaging.
As well as keeping your test strips at room temperature, you should do the same for your meter.
Always wash your hands with soap and water before doing a blood glucose test because food, drink or dirt on your hands can affect the result. If you’re on the go and don’t have any soap and water, try a disinfectant wipe.
Make sure the code on your meter matches the code on your test strip container.
Not using enough blood can sometimes affect the result of your reading. Make sure you use a new test strip when you try a bigger droplet.
A guide to keeping your blood glucose levels as normal as possible
A guide to the general glucose ranges that can be used as a guideline.<br />
Information on clinical guidelines and current NHS funding for advanced glucose monitoring technologies for people with type 1 diabetes
A smart insulin pen is a reusable self-injection pen, which records information about how much insulin you inject and the timing of it.
Blood glucose meters measure the amount of glucose in the blood. They are an important part of managing your blood glucose levels.
Continuous glucose monitoring can help you manage your glucose levels in real-time and relieve the burden of having to do multiple finger prick tests throughout the day.
A flash glucose monitor is a small wearable device that you scan with a reader or mobile phone to check your glucose levels.
Hybrid closed loop technology – also known as the artificial pancreas – automates many of the decisions that you have to make on a daily basis when you have type 1 diabetes.
Open source and DIY systems are sometimes used by people with type 1 diabetes or people caring for someone with type 1 to help manage the condition.
Apps can help you manage type 1 diabetes, from logging your insulin doses, glucose levels and the food you eat, to helping you count carbs and order prescriptions.