Monitoring of blood glucose (i.e., blood sugar) levels is important in patients with diabetes mellitus. Persistently high blood sugar damages your blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Conversely, treatment with insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs may lead to an abrupt drop in blood sugar levels. This causes behavioral changes, seizures, loss of consciousness and can be fatal when severe.
The traditional method of checking blood sugar is to prick a finger and spill a drop of blood on a glucose meter that displays the reading. Even if it's just a single needle stick, having to do it four or more times a day can be traumatic to any diabetes patient. To address this problem, non-invasive glucose meters have been developed to measure blood sugar without blood.
If you have been using a finger-stick glucose meter and you want to shift to a bloodless glucose meter, you need to see your endocrinologist or diabetes specialist first. To determine if non-invasive methods are appropriate for you, he may have to review your medications, your insulin schedule (if you have any) and your blood sugar readings for the past few months. He may also request laboratory exams such as your HbA1C level.
Inquire about your options. Some of the continuous glucose monitoring systems that you and your physician may choose from include:
- FreeStyle Navigator ® by Abbott
- Seven ® Plus by Dexcom
- Guardian ® by Medtronic
- GlucoDay ® S by A. Menarini
Learn how to use your device. In these devices, a sensor is attached to a part of your body, usually the upper arm or abdomen. Blood glucose levels are then checked depending on a set frequency (can be as frequent as every minute) and the readings are transmitted to a separate receiver that records the blood sugar levels. You need to calibrate your monitor regularly, using values obtained by finger-stick.
Ask the help of your physician if there is anything that you don't understand in the manual. Your physician would also tell you the upper and lower limits of your blood glucose. You need to input these values on your non-invasive glucose monitor, which is designed to set off an alarm if the blood sugar level is either too high or too low.
If you feel any form of discomfort when using your device, tell your physician right away. Some patients may complain of skin irritation, infection or bleeding at the site of sensor insertion.
Tips & Warnings
- Patients with diabetes need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Follow your nutritionist's advice for a healthy diet, perform moderate-intensity exercises at least three times per week, avoid smoking and maintain your blood pressure below 130/80 mmHg.
- These devices are not meant to completely replace traditional blood glucose monitors. Falsely high and falsely low readings have been reported in literature. Seek your physician's advice if you suspect that your device is giving you inaccurate readings.
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