For patients with diabetes, keeping blood glucose (sugar) levels under control and monitoring blood sugar levels regularly is important for several reasons, most notably to determine if blood sugar levels are too high or too low at any given time.
Testing frequently allows an understanding of what causes blood sugar levels to fluctuate and how your lifestyle and medications may impact these levels. Regular monitoring can also help a patient and their healthcare provider determine if any medication changes need to be made.
These decisions are crucial to the care of a patient and can prevent diabetes complications such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, and amputation. Blood glucose meters are devices that allow to test and save reading results. It is good practice for patients to record their readings in a journal.
How to Check Your Levels
A blood glucose meter is a handy device used by diabetics to check blood sugar levels at home or on the go. These meters require a blood sample onto a glucose strip. They can be purchased at pharmacies or online. A pharmacist, diabetes counselor or doctor may provide insight into which is right for you.
Before using a blood glucose meter, there are several things you will need to collect your sample and check your levels accurately. First, you will need to know how and where to collect a blood sample. You will need lancets, which are devices that puncture your skin. You must know how to use and dispose of lancets properly. You will also need to determine the size of your blood sample required by your blood glucose meter. Not every meter takes the same type/size of blood glucose strips either.
Part of using your meter responsibly involves cleaning it, checking for accuracy, and knowing how to code your meter if needed. You also want to check the expiration date on all testing supplies regularly. Before collecting your sample, you should wash your hands thoroughly to remove any contaminants. Using the sides of your fingers is best since this is a less sensitive spot vs. the fingertips.
Fortunately, finger prick meters are not the only option for diabetic patients. There are also flash glucose meters and continuous glucose meters. Flash glucose meters use sensors to measure your levels. A sensor is inserted right underneath your skin, usually in the arm. This meter also comes with a handheld scanner that you can move over your sensor to get your level reading.
A continuous glucose meter is another device that does not require a blood sample. It also uses a sensor that is placed under the skin. This monitor continuously displays blood sugar levels and provides alarms that alert low and high blood sugar and integrates with insulin pump devices.
One of the most popular continuous glucose meters is the Dexcom device. It is a small, wearable device that sends your glucose numbers to a smart device. This device will alert you if your levels start to get out of range.
How to Choose Your Monitoring System
To find the glucose monitoring system right for you, you first need to determine which is suitable for your specific needs. Always consider both the benefits and limitations of different devices and aim to find a system that meets your individual requirements and lifestyle.
There are three primary purposes for monitoring your glucose. The first is to ensure the safety of patients taking insulin or oral medications by detecting or preventing hypoglycemia. The second purpose is to help people with diabetes make decisions about their insulin dosage. The final objective is to determine how well your diet, medications, and activity are working to keep you in a healthy blood sugar level range.
How often diabetic patients must monitor their blood sugar levels depends on the type of diabetes. For example, people with type 1 diabetes who have severely low blood sugar or suffer from hypoglycemic unawareness would do best with a continuous glucose monitoring system. By using this consistent monitoring method, life-threatening emergencies like comas and seizures can be prevented through the alarms that provide early warnings. Also, these systems help patients spend more time within the target blood sugar range.
Flash glucose monitoring systems are offered to type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients. They have been shown to help patients decrease time spent in hypoglycemia. This monitoring system reveals patterns of glucose values and shows graphs of historical data, future data, and scan data.