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Diabetes Overview
Types of Diabetes
Glucose Meters
Long-term Complications

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Diabetes Blood Sugar and Glucose Testing

While diabetes is a chronic disease with no known cure, diabetics can lead healthy lives by proactively managing their disease. Diabetes disease management includes elements of lifestyle & behavior changes and proper monitoring.

Self-monitoring: Testing your blood glucose levels regularly at home is an important step in managing diabetes. Keeping a log of your blood glucose results, as well as the effects of lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, is an important step in optimally managing diabetes. This is especially true for those diabetics on insulin, as the timing and the dosing of insulin can be more effectively ascertained with patient involvement. Not only does knowing your blood glucose levels allow you tailor your disease management strategies according to your own personal circumstances, but regular self-monitoring helps reduce the risk of long-term complications.

Self monitoring of blood glucose is a key component in 1) controlling blood glucose levels within target levels, 2) guarding against and detecting for hypoglycemia & hyperglycemia, 3) making adjustments to medication due to life-style changes, and 4) signaling the need for insulin therapy in gestational diabetics.

  • At Home Testing: Today’s diabetic has a vast array of options for testing glucose levels at home. There are more than 25 different glucose meters currently available. Consulting with a physician is recommended as not all glucose meters may be well suited to your specific needs and preferences.
  • Testing Frequency: The ADA recommends type 1 diabetics test themselves at least 3 times a day. For gestational diabetics taking insulin, tests should be done 2 times a day. For type 2 diabetics, there is no standard guideline for the number of tests, but regular testing is a smart move as it has been shown to decrease the incidence of unwanted complications. A testing regimen should be established in conjunction with your health care providers input.
  • How They Work: The basic mechanism for most glucose monitors is the same. A small blood sample is collected by using a sterile needle (lancet), placed on a test strip, and then analyzed to determine the amount of blood sugar (glucose present). The finger tip has been the traditional site for sampling, but newer models allow for alternative sites such as the forearm that may be more convenient and less painful. The method for analyzing the samples ranges from using electrical conductivity to measuring color and/or light reflection off of the test strips. Test strips generally have chemicals such as glucose oxidase, dehydrogenase, or hexokinase that react with the glucose in different ways.
  • New Technologies: The latest twist to home glucose monitors is called GlucoWatch. Approved by the FDA in 2001, GlucoWatch is a small watch like device that draws tiny amounts of fluid from the skin and uses electric currents to measure your glucose level. GlucoWatch is considered the first step towards the holy-grail of glucose monitoring: non-invasive & continuous monitoring of blood sugar levels.
  • Glucose Level Guidelines: A normal non-diabetic person should have a glucose level of around 4.5 to 7.0 mmol/L (80 to 125 mg/dL). For diabetics, the American Diabetes Association (position statement 2003) recommends the following:
    Before meals 90-130 mg/dL
    Before bedtime snack 180 mg/dL


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This information is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice.