Testing your blood sugar in public and how often one should change their lancets is a common topic in the Facebook Dario Lounge. And I was quickly reminded of this in my Friday morning foreign language class. Our teacher asked us to speak about what we do for a living and since I love what I do at Dario, I was happy to demonstrate for everyone a blood glucose measurement with my Dario Smart Meter and iPhone.
The students and teacher were amazed that I could take a reading of my blood sugar by simply connecting a tiny meter to my smart phone and putting a little drop of blood on the test strip. After the initial amazement came from the class, I was then asked a slew of questions: is it clean? How often do you change the needle? Isn’t that dangerous? Does it hurt? So I thought to myself, “Oh, so this is what it must be like to test your blood sugar in public!”
Now I was experiecing for the first time what it was like to test your BG in public. I suddenly felt some sense of shame for making myself bleed in public and that my classmates were worried that I was carrying some random blood borne illnesses. Feeling the weight of these stigmas related to testing your BG levels in public was not cool. But it did get me thinking, what were the proper safety protocols for keeping myself and others safe when testing with my Dario Smart Meter?
1. Change your lancet every time.
While the best practice recommendation is to change your lancet with each use, Certified Diabetes Educator and member of Dario’s Scientific Advisory Board, Gary Scheiner, notes that is not necessarily the behavior of most people living with Diabetes to do so if they are taking multiple, daily readings. The reality is that many people with Diabetes only change their lancets on a weekly or even monthly basis.
So what are the benefits to changing your lancet each and every time you test? The more times that you test with the same lancet, the duller the lancet becomes. For a dull lancet to be effective you will need to increase the lancet depth, which can ultimately increase the pain of the testing. Although it is highly unlikely that you will get an infection reusing your own lancet, using a new lancet every time also decreases the risk of bacterial and viral infections, such as Hepatitis B. According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), people with Diabetes have an increased risk for Hepatitis B infection when compared to the overall public. Hepatitis B can be up to 100 times more infectious than HIV and can survive outside the body for up to one week. However, there is a vaccination against Hepatitis B to prevent it which is recommended for people with Diabetes.
And although in today’s day and age it seems obvious, it still needs to be said: do not share your lancet device or needles with others to prevent contracting any infection.
2. Keep yourself and your Dario clean.
Always wash your hands before testing to ensure accurate readings and decrease the risk of infection. There is no need to use alcohol to clean your fingers – it just dries them out and makes the prick sting.
If your Dario gets dirty, the outer surfaces may be wiped with a soft, lint-free cloth slightly dampened with mild soap and water solution (be careful not to get too much water on your Dario) or 70% ethyl alcohol. Clean the Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System with IPA 70% (isopropanol) wipes at least once a week and with germicidal disinfection wipes once a month. You can read more about keeping your Dario clean in our user guide.
3. Know how to dispose of your used test strips and lancets.
Ideally, your used test strips and lancets should be disposed of in a proper sharps bin or clipper, which are available in certain regions on prescription. Since each country has their own guidelines about appropriate disposal of used strips, lancets, and needles, it is a good idea to Google the local Diabetes organization in your area (or travel destination) to find out what to do.
4. Stay informed and raise awareness about Diabetes.
Always keep yourself in the know about best practices for managing your diabetes safely. Read articles, blogs (like this one 😀 ) and speak to your healthcare providers about safely and accurately testing your blood sugars. If you are comfortable testing in public and someone gives you funny looks, tell them what you are doing and why. Time and again we hear so many stories in the Dario Lounge about the misinformation and misconceptions about living with Diabetes. Take the opportunity to advocate for the Diabetes Community.
In the end, I think my class had a better understanding of what people living with Diabetes need to do on a daily basis to manage their condition and I think I gained an important experience in becoming more empathetic as to what it is like to have to test your blood sugar in public thanks to my Dario demonstration.
– Sara Dario