Can a Low Battery Affect Your Blood Sugar Readings?

Posted on October 19, 2022 at 02AM

Monitoring your glucose levels can help determine whether you are attaining your glucose goals, which helps prevent long-term diabetic issues and lower the unpleasant effects of low or high blood sugar levels. 

Typically, you’ll need a blood sugar monitor to measure and show your blood sugar level. The readings from these meters are generally accurate when used correctly. However, there are circumstances when you could get inaccurate results.

One of these situations is when the device’s battery is low.

Diabetes patients want to know about the possibility of getting inaccurate blood sugar readings due to a meter’s low batteries. To answer this question, we examined the unique experiences of other people before compiling an extensive result for it. This article explains what we found out.

Why is accurate blood glucose level measurement essential? 

A blood glucose (sugar) level test measures the amount of sugar in an individual’s blood and detects diabetes. The results allow you to learn what is effective and pinpoint areas for growth in your diabetes treatment.

While you and your medical team will decide how frequently you should monitor your blood sugar levels, most diabetes patients do it before all meals and snacks, before going to bed, before engaging in strenuous activity, before engaging in dangerous tasks like operating a motor vehicle, or whenever they have a suspicion of having low blood sugar.

Patients with type 1 diabetes who use an insulin pump, daily insulin injections, or any of these typically check their blood sugar more regularly.

Higher blood sugar levels above the normal range of 70 to 99 mg/dL may be an indication of diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Blood Glucose Level Measurement

Does low battery affect the blood sugar monitor’s accuracy?

This question ranks amongst the top most asked questions about blood glucose meters, with several people sharing their experiences. These two experiences particularly piqued our interest.

1. Wrong test with low battery!

“I have been noticing the low battery indication on my meter for a few weeks. I took a reading today, and it was 196, with nothing new in my diet or medications (for comparison, the most I’ve ever seen before I started eating low carb was 160).

I panicked slightly and took two additional readings (182 and 178). Still excessive. By the way, I don’t have any mania, shakiness, drowsiness, or lethargy symptoms. I hurried to the store to get a new battery, returned, and rechecked my blood sugar within 15 minutes. Only to get 113. “

“I’m going to chalk this up to a low battery issue, but I wanted to post this information in case anyone else finds themselves in a similar situation. I also wanted to see if anyone else had experienced this with their own meters.”

2. Always get new batteries for your meters!

“My meter was giving me some odd test results recently. My test results ranged from 112 to the middle 300s over a few days, but my nutrition and other aspects of my routine have remained the same. However, I was still staring back at the numbers.”

“I realized that the incorrect readings were caused by the meter’s battery running very low. Since we rely on these little devices, a functioning meter is crucial for someone with diabetes.”

Does a low battery affect your meter’s reading? – Our perspective.

The answer to this question is “yes” and “no,” depending on the type of blood sugar monitoring device you have.

Yes: Just like with any other electronic gadget, a reliable battery supply is necessary for accurate readings. Some digital meters use specific voltages supplied by the precision regulator.

If the voltage supplied to the regulator is anything lower than the specified reference voltage it’s designed to supply, the reference voltage could result in an error. This means the result you get when your device’s battery is low could be inaccurate. Changing the battery will ensure accuracy.

No: Most modern blood sugar monitors are designed to maintain accuracy at all times. A well-designed circuit would work as intended until the battery voltage decreased to an undesirable level. At that point, it would either stop working or indicate “low battery,” or potentially both.

So instead of continuing to work on a low battery and potentially displaying inaccurate results, your blood sugar monitoring device will just show a low battery warning or shut down.

So the answer to the question would depend on the type of device you have and how it behaves.

Other factors that can affect the accuracy of your sugar monitoring device are.

  • Meter deviations

Every meter on the market has a unique calibration procedure, set of enzymes, and set of computer programs (algorithms). Even within product lines from the same business, each brand’s manufacturing, chemistry, and calibration procedures can vary.

Your results may differ significantly if you use one brand or type of meter in the morning and another at night.

Stick with one meter to simplify the interpretation of your blood glucose levels.

  • Test Strips

Test strip failure can lead to inaccurate findings if the strip has been contaminated, damaged, or expired. The test can also produce inaccurate results if the test strip has been affected by heat and humidity or if insufficient blood is administered.

Your test strips should always be kept in their original containers at the manufacturer-recommended storage temperature. Also, check to ensure the test strip you are using is ideal for your type of meter.

  • Chemicals on your skin

Anything you touch or apply to your skin has the potential to wind up on your test strip and consequently impact your blood sample. Since many current meters use a micro-sized blood sample, even touching anything with sugar and failing to wash your hands can cause your readings to be off.

  • Blood content of your test strips

There could be too much or not enough blood in the test strip sample region, which could result in false positives or false negatives.

Check your meter’s manual to know the minimum blood sample size needed for testing. So you know how much blood is necessary.

  • Body part used for test

Test findings from alternative areas like your forearms, calves, or thighs are frequently less accurate than testing with your fingertip because of the physiological variances in the circulation of specific parts of your body.

This is caused by the frequency with which new blood circulates throughout the body. Other areas, like the forearms, may not be able to pick up changes as fast as the fingertip if you’ve recently eaten, exercised, or taken medicine that could lower your blood sugar.