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Question:

From Montana, USA:

I am an insulin-dependent, 48-year-old and a very active outdoorsperson in Montana -- fishing, camping, backpacking, canoeing, skiing. It can get cold here even in summer, and when you're backpacking, sleeping in a tent, you can't take the glucose meter and strips inside to warm up. I test frequently, but I wonder about the temperature range specified in the meter specs. I'm frequently outside the acceptable temperature range. So these questions:

  1. Do temperature ranges specified on meters mean readings will be off if the strips are too cold? Or do they mean that the meter developers checked accuracy only within the specified temperature range? Is it possible the meter is reading accurately at 30 degrees, but that testing at such a temperature was simply never part of FDA approval and so is not certified?

  2. If the meter results truly become inaccurate at cold temperatures, are they too high? Too low? Erratic? If consistently too high or too low, can you generalize on how much at varying temperatures?

  3. Are there any meters that have tested well at low temperatures and, if so, how low and what are they?

Answer:

Some meters have a feature which will prevent you from doing a blood sugar outside of the specified temperature range. You would get an error code.

Other meters will allow the blood sugar check to be done, but if you are out of range the results will not be reliable. The chemical reaction that takes place on the strips is temperature dependent. If it is too hot you get a faster reaction, and if it is too cold out the reaction slows down. You may therefore get a false low reading by checking in cold weather. Humidity may also affect the results.

I would recommend keeping your meter as close to your body as possible when you are outside. Also wait until the meter and strips warm up before checking when you come inside from the cold. Do not heat up your strips or meter!

One meter manufacturer that I spoke with said you could try to do the blood sugar outside in cold weather and "see what happens." The other clearly stated that you would not get accurate results.

LM

Original posting 16 Nov 97

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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