Blood Glucose Monitoring
|What Is Blood Glucose Monitoring?
Blood glucose monitoring is the ongoing measuring of a diabetic’s blood sugar (glucose) level. It is an essential part of diabetes treatment, and daily self-monitoring is carried out using a portable device called a glucose monitor. Glucose monitors are also called glucose meters and glucometers. If you have diabetes, careful monitoring of your glucose levels at home is one of the most important things you can do to manage your disease and to reduce the risk of long-term diabetes complications. Keeping track of your levels will tell you:
A glucose meter kit comes with several items (image):
Insulin dependent diabetics need to test before and after every meal and at bedtime. Patients with type 1 diabetes will also need to occasionally test one hour after eating and in the middle of the night. If you manage your condition with pills or just diet and exercise (type 2 diabetes) you may only need to test your glucose levels twice a day - before breakfast and before dinner. Remember, no matter how well you think you are controlling your blood sugar, studies show that people estimate incorrectly 50 percent of the time. So never try to 'guess-estimate', always do your testing. You may find our article on diabetes facts interesting, it highlights the benefits of glucose monitoring in preventing longterm complications. Also, take a look at diabetes resources for research and clinical trials.
Never share your lancing device, glucose meter or insulin pen with another person because of the risk of infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there have been several outbreaks of hepatitis B in facilities such as nursing homes where residents require assistance with their glucometers and/or insulin administration. In the past decade there have been at least 15 such outbreaks due to sharing of devices. For safety:
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) (image) involves the use of tiny sensors which are placed under the skin of the arm or chest and continuously monitor a patient's blood sugar. The sensor remains in place for up to a week and then needs to be replaced. It emits readings via radio waves which are picked up by a wireless handheld monitor. CGMs are more expensive than conventional monitors but they do provide instant continuous feedback. The patient can set an alarm in the device to go off when their glucose levels fall too low or rises too high. CGM's are FDA approved but are only available on prescription. Most health insurance companies don't cover the cost. An average CGM starter kit costs about $1,000 and the sensors which need changing every 3-7 days are about $35 each.
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