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When the first forms of glucose monitoring came out in the 1960s, doctors said that patients monitoring their own levels at home would lead to complications. They argued that a lab test was the only effective method of tracking a patient’s blood-sugar levels. Today, doctors regularly subscribe glucose testing to patients with and without diabetes.
The testing itself has many benefits for patients, even ones without diabetes. Testing is easy and relatively painless. Patients can do it from the comfort of their couch with nothing more than their cell phones. Technology growth in health care may allow patients round the clock monitoring through implants in the body, but until then testing is routine and simple.
Types of Tests
There are several methods to test glucose levels, each with its own aim for the patient’s overall health. Your doctor may advise you on when to perform certain tests, or may request a test at random. Testing will help you figure out how and when to take insulin. Modern monitors fit into the palm of your hand, and the testing process involves injecting your finger with a small lancet to get a blood sample. Old monitors required coding before a sample could be taken, but newer monitors are code free. The necessary blood sample is also much smaller than it once was, and patients can get a reading in seconds.
Depending on your specific health concerns, your doctor may order one or a combination of the following tests:
- Testing blood sugar after fasting for 8 hours is done to check for diabetes before it is officially diagnosed. You may be asked to wait until after your breakfast, or you may be asked to take this test prior to your first dose of insulin for the morning.
- Two hours after you begin eating a meal helps diagnose your diabetes and give indications on when to take more insulin.
- Randomly measuring blood sugar helps gauge one’s blood sugar level throughout the day, and may be useful if a doctor suspects other factors besides diet.
- Oral tests are helpful to diagnose during pregnancy.
- Glycohemoglobin help detect sugar levels in red blood cells
Judging Goal Progress
Regular testing helps diabetic patients figure out the progress of their treatment. Your doctor may set certain weight loss or blood sugar level goals for you that regular testing can help you assess. These tests may also detect abnormalities and help your doctor further diagnose your situation.
It’s important to know a healthy range for yourself. Complications like other health concerns, or your age can affect the treatment of your diabetes. Talk with your doctor and establish a baseline for care.
Impact of Diet and Exercise
Keeping track of your glucose levels can help patients on the brink of diabetes. A doctor may order tests when he suspects a patient is diabetic or may be coming out of the disease. Your diet can affect the outcome of the test, so doctors will often leave instructions to wait a certain amount of time after eating to perform a test. If you’re aged 50 or younger, normal levels for you are somewhere in the 140 mg/dl range. Keep a detailed food journal and plot out the times you spend exercising and what you do with that time.
Depending on the outcome of the tests, talk with your doctor to adjust treatment and get the results you want. Remember to start small as well. You’ll need to build up a routine for exercise so you don’t get burnt out.
Factoring Stress and Illness
A random test may be used to measure your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Doctors have a variety of reasons for ordering random tests, but one of those reasons is to get a sense of particular factors that may cause spikes in your glucose levels. One way you can assist in the monitoring process is to keep a journal of your life that details the work you do and the stresses you go through each day. It’s helpful to look at that journal and see if you can draw any correlations between those stressors and your glucose levels.
Spikes in your glucose levels typically mean that something is triggering an attack for you. High values run the risk of a stroke or a heart attack. They could also signal periods of high stress in your life, so you might just need a vacation. Lower levels can mean that you may have a tumor in your pituitary gland, or it could point to a form of malnutrition commonly associated with anorexia.
Alcohol can affect the reading of a test, as can smoking and eating before a test. Some medicines, like birth control, can also affect a test’s outcome so be sure to check with your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
Advances in Testing
There are many variations that can interfere with glucose testing, but doctors and researchers continue to refine their precision. Doctors currently use glucose apps for Android and iPhone devices that can record and monitor blood sugar levels for extended study.
MIT is working on a system that measures glucose levels through a tattoo on a person’s body. The patient would wear a device strapped over the tattoo. The tattoo itself is composed of nanoparticles designed to read glucose levels and deliver those readings to the device via ink. The device shines a near infra-red light on the skin and detects the glowing levels present in the ink.
A Boston pharmaceutical company is developing a chemical that, when injected, will detect high glucose levels and give the body insulin as needed. One of the challenges a patient faces is the constant interruption needed to give the injection. Smart Insulin would put an end to those issues.
One Touch and Bayer both make popular monitors that patients use daily. There are strip monitors which read a patient’s blood on a strip that interacts with chemicals to test for glucose levels as well. The biggest issue with these testers is the consumables necessary to actually perform the testing. Patients should expect to replace lancets and testing strips as needed. Regular testing presents an even larger burden, as patients may administer up to 12 tests in a day.
This article is written by John Jay , a heath blogger obsessed with exercise and healthy living despite his struggle with diabetes. John has been writing on topics like which glucose apps are best for blood monitoring. why people with diabetes can truly overcome the disease to become the best version of themselves, and other healthy living tips. If you would like to write for HealthResource4u, check our guest submission guidelines.