How important is it to calibrate my blood sugar meter?

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
It is important to calibrate your blood sugar meter. That's because there are manufacturing variances in test strips that can make the results quite different from batch to batch. Rather than make the manufacturing process more precise and reliable, meter companies have devised a cheap work-around. Every batch of test strips is given a code. The code tells the meter how bad the batch of strips is, and by how much to change the reading to get the results in the same general neighborhood as correct.

I’m sure it will ruin your day to learn that for the FDA to consider a test strip accurate it must be within 20% of correct. That means if your blood sugar is really 100, any test strip that reads from 80 to 120 is considered accurate and can be approved.

How far off will your meter be if calibrated wrong? Depends on the meter. I’ve seen cases of 100 or 150 points off. If I find a patient’s meter mis-calibrated I don’t even look at the numbers or the log. They are too likely to be wrong.
The Born-Again Diabetic: The handbook to help you get your diabetes in control (again)

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The Born-Again Diabetic: The handbook to help you get your diabetes in control (again)

Much has been written about the explosion of diabetes on the world stage the 4,000 new cases a day we all know about, the millions of people unaware they have diabetes. But another epidemic is...

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.