How To Monitor Blood Glucose – U.S. Regulators approve first continuous blood glucose monitor that doesn’t require a fingerstick test.
Current models require users to test a drop of blood twice a day to calibrate or adjust the monitor.
The pain of tripping the finger and the cost of testing supplies deter many people from closely monitoring their blood sugar levels, which is necessary to manage insulin use and adjust eating habits.
Abbott’s new FreeStyle Libre Flash glucose monitoring system, approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, uses a small sensor attached to the upper arm. Patients wave a reader over it to see their current blood sugar level and changes over the past eight hours.
Most of the 30 million Americans with diabetes use a standard glucose meter, which requires multiple finger pricks each day and shows only current sugar levels. About 345,000 Americans use more accurate continuous glucose monitoring devices.
But most people don’t stick their fingers out for calibration and can get inaccurate readings, says Dr. Timothy Bailey, who helped test FreeStyle Libre.
“We can safely lower blood sugar” with this technology, says Bailey, director of the Advanced Metabolic Care and Research Institute in California. He receives consulting fees from various diabetes device companies.
Blood sugar levels that are too high can damage organs and lead to heart attacks, strokes, blindness and amputations. Very low blood sugar can cause seizures, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Abbott’s device is approved for adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and should be available in pharmacies within months. The Chicago-based company did not disclose the price of either the reader or the sensors.
Abbott’s system cannot be used with an insulin pump, a device worn on the skin that allows users to inject insulin as needed, but the company plans to make improvements to eventually make it possible.
This spring, rival Medtronic launched a device in which an insulin pump automatically responds to changes in blood sugar recorded by a sensor and withholds or injects insulin as needed.
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Of course, the accuracy of the results depends on the accuracy of the check – and whether you understand what all the numbers mean. “The most important thing to me is that people learn something from controlling their blood sugar,” says Sacha Uelmen, RDN, CDE, director of nutrition for the American Diabetes Association. “Don’t just look at these numbers, write them down and move on. If you have diabetes, take an active role in your health.” To get the most useful results, learn about common mistakes in blood glucose testing and how to avoid them.
“The biggest mistake people make is testing the tip of the finger, where the veins are,” says Renee Amori, MD, assistant professor of endocrinology at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. The finger pad is the most sensitive point, so testing there is painful.
Solution for better diabetes control: Press your hands together with flat palms and fingers. Try it on the edges you see now. “Testing the edges is less painful because you can’t touch things,” says Uelmen.
“Don’t use alcohol on your fingers because the drying effect of alcohol can be harmful,” says Dr. love Other mistakes people make are licking their fingers to remove the test strip and not cleaning their fingers. Whatever was in your mouth or touched is now on your finger and will likely be picked up in the exam. “If I just eat an orange, I’m going to be tested for good—I’m testing the orange, not my blood,” Uelmen explains.
Found that blood from unwashed hands showed more than a 10 percent difference in blood sugar between the first drop and the second drop, and that this error was magnified if the participants’ hands had been touched recently in fruit. Solution for better diabetes control: For the most accurate blood glucose reading, wash your hands with soap and warm water and dry them immediately before testing.
People choose the same finger and the same area on the part because everyone has a favorite, Uelmen says, and also because calluses build up and reduce discomfort. But better diversify your fingers.
Solution for better diabetes control: “The goal is to use a different finger every day or every hour,” he says. Changing fingers allows the pricked finger to heal and helps prevent the pain of repeated stings.
If your blood sugar levels are generally consistent, you can also try an alternative spot test, like the palm of your hand, if you want to get away from your fingers every now and then. But using different patches on the same finger can also prevent pain.
For the least pain and most accurate results, you need the right blood glucose testing supplies: lancets, an accurate glucose meter, and test strips recommended by the manufacturer. Savings may not provide the returns you expect; Spears start out very sharp, but quickly dull and break if you try to reuse them, Amori said. Additionally, using expired or improperly stored test strips may result in inaccurate readings.
Solutions for better diabetes control: Use a fresh lancet, make sure you store test strips in a sealed container, and check the expiration date on the test strip before use.
Today’s blood glucose meters are more accurate, but easier to use than ever before. However, you should regularly check the accuracy of the meter – and do this by following the manufacturer’s instructions. You should know the finer points of its use and care, as well as the meaning of error messages.
Solution for better diabetes control: If you are confused about your meter, ask your doctor, diabetes educator or pharmacist for help.
Knowing when to get tested and why this information is useful can help you better control your diabetes. “People usually test their blood sugar half an hour to an hour after eating,” says Uelmen, but that’s earlier than experts recommend.
If you test right after a meal or snack, you’ll likely get results that are too high. Solution for better diabetes control: Measure your fasting blood sugar and check it every time before you eat. Wait two hours after eating for best results.
If you test on a schedule without knowing exactly what those results say, you’re just wasting test strips. You may be advised to test once in the morning, before and after meals, and then before bed. In fact, it’s the right time to try, says Uelmen, as long as you learn from the results and understand why you’re doing it. For example, the results measured before bed and in the morning are correlated, but you need to know why and how so you can make adjustments if necessary.
Solutions for better diabetes control: Talk to your diabetes educator or doctor about your results and what they mean. Think of the test as knowing how your body responds to changes in medication, diet, activity, and sleep, not just a routine to follow.
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