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Why do I need a Blood Glucose Monitor

What is glucose monitoring?

Glucose monitoring is a way of testing the concentration of glucose in blood samples. This is usually taken from the fingertip.

Please watch the video produced by Diabetest.co.uk about our NEW SD Codefree Blood Glucose Meter.

Why are glucose monitors needed?

It is essential that people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes monitor their blood glucose levels and keep them as stable as possible. Keeping an accurate idea of your levels is key to managing your diabetes and will help to prevent complicatications associated with it, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and blindness. Blood glucose monitors allow you to keep track of your levels and take action when necessary.

Glucose monitor kits usually consist of a monitor and a lancing device, which looks a bit like a pen. There are many different types available some may be easier to use and some give more detailed information. You should try and decide which is the best monitor for you.

What can make my blood glucose levels rise and fall?

During the day your blood glucose levels will vary and there are many factors that can cause these changes, these are as follows:

  • Eating – especially if you eat sweet or starch based foods or miss meals.
  • Stress – if you are feeling stressed your body’s natural defences will produce more glucose
  • Alcohol – Can cause your levels to drop because it shuts down your body’s natural mechanism for raising blood glucose.
  • Exercise – Usually causes blood glucose levels to drop unless you do not have enough insulin then levels can rise
  • Smoking – Can make your body less sensitive to insulin.
  • Illness – your body will produce more glucose to help fight infection, so even if you are not eating your glucose levels can still be raised.

Over time and with regular testing you can figure out what causes your blood glucose levels to rise or fall. Look carefully at your results and you may start to see a pattern. This should help you discover what might be causing the change in your blood glucose levels and once you understand the cause this will make it easier for you to make changes.

When to test?

Depending on the severity of the condition it may be necessary to test as often as every 2 hours. Your diabetes care is specific to you and the type of treatment and testing you require should be fully explained by your diabetes care team. It is very important to keep a regular check on your glucose levels. Your diabetes care team will discuss with you how often you will need to test and when the best time will be. At certain times you may need to test more often, for example if you are ill or if you change your daily routine.

Blood glucose testing

All methods of glucose testing involve collecting blood, this is obtained by pricking the skin, usually the fingertip with a special lancet. However, if you have to test frequently you may find your fingers get sore and so there are diabetes monitors available (like the one we sell) which enable you to take blood from other parts of the body such as the palm, forearm or upper arm. this is known as alternate site testing (AST). However, you should always consult your diabetes specialist before testing from other parts of the body.

Finger prick testing:

When obtaining blood for blood glucose testing then you should follow these steps:

1. Ensure all strips are in date and that your machine if previously used is kept clean.

2. Wash your hands and rinse well with warm water, the blood will flow better with warm hands. Also the hands need to be clean to get an accurate result and to remove any substances that may effect the result. If you are going out and are not sure if there will be places available to wash your hands then you should carry a wet flannel in a plastic bag to clean your fingers with. Avoid the use of wipes as these could effect the result.

3. Choose which finger you are going to use to take the blood sample. Massage this finger well to improve the circulation.

4. Pricking the fleshy part of the skin can hurt, prick the side of the finger away from the thumb.

5. Once you have punctured the skin, squeeze your finger gently to obtain a drop of blood.

6. Apply the blood to the testing strip.

Blood lancets and lancing devices:

What is a lancet?

A blood lancet, or lancet, is a small medical device, like a very small needle.

How do lancets work?

Most lancets operate in a similar way, the needle is released with a press of a button and the needle springs forward forcing the needle to pierce the skin and create a small drop of blood.

What are lancets used for?

Lancets are used to puncture your skin to obtain a small blood sample, which is used for testing. Most lancets are disposable. The small blood samples obtained can be tested for blood glucose and many other blood components.

What is a lancing device?

A lancing device, is a reusable instrument equipped with a lancet. Most lancing devices will have adjustable depths at which the needle is inserted. This can be changed for your skin type, skin which is harder or thicker will require a higher setting (usually 5 for a deeper cut) to enable the needle to penetrate the skin. Someone who has thin, soft skin will only require a lower setting (1 or 2). For average/normal skin a setting of 3 should be adequate.

Lancets and lancet devices are most commonly used by diabetics for blood glucose monitoring. However, many home tests for example allergy tests will often require blood samples and so will usually contain lancets.

You should use the type of lancet that you find easiest to use. For regular use a lancing device like the one we sell is usually the preferred choice. To buy click here.

What do I do now that I have the blood sample?

Once you have obtained the blood sample the blood is added to a test strip, ensure you follow the instructions in full. If you have a glucose monitor the strip is usually pre-inserted into the monitor and will give you your blood glucose reading, within a few seconds. Once you have read your result the strip and lancet (if a disposable one) should be thrown away.

How accurate are blood testing monitors?

All meters on the market should have a high degree of accuracy as there are certain standards that they have to reach before they can be sold.

Are blood glucose monitors portable?

Most blood glucose monitors are portable and are battery powered. The majority of monitors are small enough that they can fit in the palm of your hand. If travelling on a plane and you think you will need to test during the flight. Ensure you get a letter from your GP in advance.

What should my blood glucose levels be?

Diabetes UK recommends that people who have diabetes aim for the following targets. Your everyday blood glucose reading before meals should be 4-7 mmol/L, two hour after meals your levels should be no higher than 10mmol/L.

The normal fasting blood glucose range for an adult without diabetes is 74 – 106 mg/dL(4.1 – 5.8mmol/L).
Two hours after meals, the blood glucose range for an adult without diabetes is less than 140 mg/dL (7.7 mmol/L).

What should I do with my results?

Like the glucose monitor we sell most monitors will record and store your results. However, if the monitor you have doesn’t keep track of your results then you should keep a notebook to record your results. Keeping a record of your results will help your doctor or diabetes specialist to monitor how well your diabetes plan is working.

What is the difference in glucose measurements?

Glucose levels are measured in either mg/dl or mmol/l. The preferred measurement unit varies by country. In the UK mmol/l is the measurement used but the USA as well as France prefer to use mg/dl. If you need to convert mmol/l to mg/dl then multiply the result by 18 to convert the other way divide by 18.

What can happen if I don’t monitor my blood glucose?

If levels of blood glucose remain high this can be damaging to your health and most long term diabetes complications are due to people not monitoring their levels.

If your blood glucose levels are low (less than 4mmol/L) you might experience a ‘hypo’. If your blood glucose is high (above 10mmol/L) this is known as hyperglycaemia.

What is a ‘hypo’?

Hypo is short for hypoglycaemia and it occurs when there are insufficient levels of glucose in the blood (below 4mmol/L). This can be caused by you taking too much insulin, eating too little or at the wrong time, too much exercise or from drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. If this condition is not treated promptly a coma can occur. If you feel your glucose levels are low test your levels and eat or drink something sugary. For example, half a can of a fizzy drink (not a diet variety), 2 teaspoons of sugar, honey or jam or 4-5 jelly babies. It would be a good idea to keep a supply of sweets around you, leave them in purses, drawers, cars or lockers.

Symptoms of a ‘hypo’ can vary from person to person and in time you will recognise your symptoms. A hypo can be mild which you can treat yourself or severe and you will require help from another person. Symptoms may include:

  • Hunger
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Aggression
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Clammy skin

After a hypo it is important to try and figure out what might have triggered it so that you can prevent it from happening again.

What is hyperglycaemia?

Hyperglycaemia occurs when your levels are above 10mmol/L. The occasional high reading is not a problem but if levels become very high regularly this is because your diabetes is not being controlled and there is a danger of damage to internal organs there is also the risk of you slipping into a coma.

What is HbA1c?

HbA1c is a measurement of the glucose attached to red blood cells. It gives an indication of your blood glucose control over a period of 3 months. Your diabetes care team should test this level during clinic visits.

For more detailed information on diabetes click here.

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