If you suffer from diabetes then this means that you will have an abnormal amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. This happens due to the low amount of insulin in the blood which the body uses to turn sugar into ATP – it is usable form of energy. As such those with diabetes end up with the unfortunate irony of having large amounts of sugar but none of the energy that comes with it. While the low energy levels are of course upsetting for those with diabetes however, it is the damage that this glucose can do to the body that is the most alarming. Excess glucose in the body can result in nerve damage that can cause other problems such as loss of eyesight or use of the extremities.
Of course there are ways that diabetics can manage this, and ensuring they keep a close eye on their glucose levels and do what they can to keep them low (administering insulin when necessary, and adjusting their diet accordingly) is one of the most important strategies. This of course relies on diabetic patients being able to somehow find out their own blood sugar levels and test them accordingly. Here we will look at some of the ways to test your blood sugar levels and this way keep a close reign on the amount of glucose in your system.
Ways to Test Your Blood Sugar
Fortunately there are several ways that you can test your blood sugar levels and this means that there should be a suitable method no matter who you are. The main methods are as follows:
Blood sugar meters: A traditional way to test your blood sugar is to get a small blood sample by pricking the end of your finger with a lancet (which is a small needle) and then putting this drop of blood onto a test strip and getting a reading from a 'blood sugar meter' recommended by your doctor. These devices can give you a read out in less than 15 seconds but vary in their price, size, functionality and other factors. Some of these meters will also have other functions such as giving you a reading of your average blood sugar over a period of time. This method is fast and reliable but some people are put off by the fact that they are required to draw blood in order to use them. It is also possible to get blood sugar meters that do not require the sample to be drawn from the finger tip which allows you to get your reading from elsewhere on your body. However these devices are not entirely recommended as it can take longer for changes in blood sugar to show in areas other than the finger tip, and as you will potentially disrupt your results as the blood sugar may be different when taken from different areas of your body. Another alternative for the squeamish is to use a blood sugar meter that uses a laser in order to draw blood which reduces the discomfort and the unpleasant thought of pricking your blood.
MiniMed Continuous Glucose Monitoring System: This is a device that uses a very small tube inserted under the skin to collect fluid and measure sugar over 72 hours. This allows you to have accurate readings over a three day period to inform you of when you need to be most alert during the day and to help identify things that are exacerbating your blood sugar level.
GlucoWatch: The GlucoWatch is a device like a watch (surprise) that uses tiny electric currents to gather fluid from just below the skin and measure blood sugar three times an hour for up to three hours. This is a great device that is non-invasive, highly intuitive and that allows for heavy monitoring of your blood sugar.
Understanding Your Readings
Unfortunately testing your blood sugar level isn't a simple matter of looking at the device and then panicking or being reassured based on the readout. Rather the implications of the reading will vary greatly depending on when you took the reading and many other factors can have an impact on the readings. Whether or not you need to act on the number then depends on the other things you have been doing that day and what time you took the result. At the same time if you take your test before meals it should be around 70-130 mg/dl while taking the test after meals should result in a blood sugar level of around 180 mg/dl.
Other things that might affect your reading are conditions such as gout or anemia, or your altitude or humidity in the room. There are some methods you can use to test your 'base' level blood sugar and this means for instance fasting for eight hours without food or drink at which point your blood sugar should be 70-99 mg/dl. Another method is to wait precisely two hours after eating a meal at which point it should be 70-145 mg/dl (the prandial test).