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Blood Glucose Monitor & Strips

Apart from medications and lifestyle changes, regular checking of blood glucose is a part of effective diabetes management. You can do it very quickly at home by using a portable device that measures the glucose level in a drop of blood – a device called blood glucose monitor (glucometer). The procedure is entirely painless.

Most diabetic cases require regular blood sugar monitoring. Going to nearby lab all the time is not practical. Most of us understand the importance of fasting glucose and HbA1C. However, postprandial readings are often neglected. Fasting glucose is readings taken in the morning with an empty stomach.  HbA1C shows the average for last three months.

Many people take medications on time, do exercise, have good fasting value, and yet their HbA1C is far from optimum, or they continue to feel numbness in feet, worsening of vision, hypertension. It could all be due to so-called postprandial spikes in blood glucose. Now the science understands that postprandial control of blood glucose is also highly significant, something best done by home sugar monitoring.

Why home blood sugar monitoring?

Home blood sugar monitoring is also called Self-monitored blood glucose (SMBG). People need to monitor glucose at home regularly to see:

  1. How well they are reaching their treatment goals.
  2. In what way exercise and medications are helping them in the disease.
  3. How stress or various types of diets affect their glucose levels.
  4. Is the dose of insulin correct, if person is on it – it helps to avoid dangerous complication called hypoglycemia due to overdosing of insulin, which can be fatal in some cases.

Dr. Kranti Shreesh Khadilkar, Department of Endocrinology, Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College, Mumbai recommends several ways to keep track of your blood glucose levels.

For those with well-controlled diabetes or less severe diabetes (like early type 2 diabetes), less intensive pattern would do. This requires testing of blood glucose merely twice a month, once fasting and another postprandial preferably after the most substantial meal.

For more severe cases or those on insulin, Dr. Kranti recommends an intensive pattern that involves testing of blood glucose seven times a day for 3 days continually. It gives the clear picture of glucose levels during the day and requires when diabetes is in poor control, or medications do not seem to help.

Blood Glucose Monitor Buying Tips

First and foremost, always buy a blood glucose monitor of the good manufacturer and from the well-recommended store. Glucometers from good manufacturers have high accuracy. Few other things to consider are the memory, test time, amount of blood sample for testing. Also some models give the average of your readings. It is not A1C, but still could be helpful. You buy a blood glucose monitor once in a while. Thus it is better not to go for cheaper options. One Touch and Accu chek are the global brands. Another benefit of buying such brands is that you can find the strips just anywhere in the world.

How to do blood sugar test at home?

Once you have bought a blood glucose monitor, the process is pretty straightforward. Also most of these glucometers would have detailed instructions included. Below are some of the critical steps:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Prepare lancing device – a pen-sized device that makes pricking skin almost painless. Many of them also have to set to adjust for various skin types. Thicker skin type may need deeper prick.
  3. Prepare the blood glucose monitor as per instructions by inserting the test strip.
  4. Use lancing device to prick the side of your fingertip.
  5. Put a drop of blood accurately on the test strip.
  6. Follow the instructions of manufacturer to get reading from the glucometer. Generally, it takes only a few seconds to get results.
  7. Use clean cotton ball to apply pressure at the site of bleeding for stopping the bleeding.