Glucose Control: Benefits |
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This is a do-it-yourself test using a blood glucose meter that measures your blood sugar at the time you test. It's necessary to 'stick' yourself to obtain blood for the test. Because it's hard for people to take blood samples, scientists are studying ways to get a blood sample without a skin puncture. Infrared light is being looked at and so is measuring glucose through saliva or tears. There's also a possibility that sweat can be drawn through the skin using a low-level electrical current.
Blood glucose goals for a person without diabetes before meals is less than 110/mg/dl. For a person with diabetes, the goal should be between 80 and 120 mg/dl. Before bedtime, a person without diabetes would have a blood glucose level of below 120 mg/dl. People with diabetes would have a goal of between 100 to 120 mg/dl. (See Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers.)
Remember that these are just general guidelines. Your blood sugar goals may need to be different. You'll need to work with your doctor to develop the goals that are best for you.
When to finger-stick test?
These are the best times to test:
- Before meals
- Before bed
- One to two hours after meals
- At 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. at least once a week, if you have Type 1 diabetes
You may need extra tests before you exercise, when you suspect you have low blood sugar, if you wake up with high or low blood sugar levels or when you're sick.
Recording test results
Record the results of both your finger-stick tests and your hemoglobin A1c test. Use the record of your finger-stick readings to decide how to manage your diabetes day-by-day. If your numbers for either kind of test are too high or too low, talk with your health care provider about ways to improve your blood sugar numbers.
In addition to recording all of your readings, you'll want to make a note of whether you felt sick, tired or stressed, what kind of exercise you did and for how long, and whether you ate more or less than you usually do. In other words you should record all of the factors that are likely to impact your blood sugar.
Choosing a blood-glucose monitor
Choosing a blood-glucose monitor is a very personal decision. You will want to check with your diabetes educator to see what you should look for in a meter. The truth, according to diabetes educators, is that there is no perfect monitor. However, some monitors are easier to use than others and over the last few years there have been a lot of improvements.
Things to consider
Consumer Reports published an article in October, 1996 that rated leading blood-glucose meters. The article stated that there are factors that may make one system more convenient than another. Some meters need more blood to work properly. Others make it harder to place the blood correctly on the strip. Some have tremendous information gathering capabilities, but they're complicated to use.
Special features are something else to look for. While some meters store the last reading, some contain enough memory for several hundred test results. Some even link the result with a specific event such as meals, exercise and illness. Some models with memory contain a data port that allows the meter to be hooked to a computer so that stored readings can be graphed and analyzed at home.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist
If you buy a meter with memory, be sure that the system is compatible with your doctor's data management system. If your doctor doesn't have one, you might check with local pharmacies to see if you can download your information and give your doctor the reports.
Blood glucose meters are highly personal items. Some have lots of features, including data ports to link with computers. Some people find these more complicated to use.
In looking for a meter, see how much maintenance and cleaning is required. If you don't mind regular cleaning, then that shouldn't keep you from choosing one that needs this kind of maintenance. However, if you're a person who's really not likely to spend the time necessary on regular cleaning, you'll want to choose a more low-maintenance meter.
Another factor is the lancing device. The more painful it is to draw blood, the less likely you are to test. You also want a strip that's big enough to handle easily and that can be inserted handily into the meter without awkwardness. Some meters require more blood than others and that also may
affect your choice. Talk to your diabetes educator about which meters might be
right for you.