Self-monitoring blood sugar levels is vital for effective diabetes management, helping to regulate meal scheduling, physical activity, and when to take medication, including insulin.
While self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) machines vary, they will generally include a meter and test strip for generating readings and a lancing device to prick the skin for obtaining a small quantity of blood.
Refer to the specific instructions of a meter in every case, as machines will differ. However, the following precautions and steps will apply to many of the machines on the market:
Make sure both hands are clean and dry before touching the test strips or meter
Do not use a test strip more than once and keep them in their original canister to avoid any external moisture changing the result.
Keep canisters closed after testing.
Always check the expiration date.
Older meters might require coding prior to use. Check to see if the machine currently in use needs this.
Store the meter and strips in a dry, cool area.
Take the meter and strips into consultations, so that a primary care physician or specialist can check their effectiveness.
A person who is self-monitoring diabetes uses a device called a lancet to prick the skin. While the idea of drawing blood might cause distress for some people, the lancing of the finger to obtain a blood sample should be a gentle, simple procedure.
Take the following precautions:
Clean the area from which the sample will come with soapy, warm water to avoid food residue entering the device and distorting the reading.
Choose a small, thin lancet for maximum comfort.
The lancet should have depth settings that control the depth of the prick. Adjust this for comfort.
Many meters require only a teardrop-sized sample of blood.
Take blood from the side of the finger, as this causes less pain. Using the middle finger, ring finger, and little finger may be more comfortable
While some meters allow samples from other test sites, such as the thighs and upper arms, the fingertips or outer palms produce more accurate results.
Tease blood to the surface in a “milking” motion rather than placing pressure at the lancing site.
Dispose of lances in line with local regulations for getting rid of sharp objects.
While remembering to self-monitor involves lifestyle adjustments, it need not be an uncomfortable process.
Diabetes is a serious, chronic condition. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the condition is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
While diabetes itself is manageable, its complications can severely impact on daily living, and some can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Complications of diabetes include:
dental and gum diseases
eye problems and sight loss
foot problems, including numbness, leading to ulcers and untreated injuries and cuts
nerve damage, such as diabetic neuropathy
In the case of kidney disease, this complication can lead to kidney failure, water retention when the body does not dispose of water correctly, and a person experiencing difficulties with bladder control.
Regularly monitoring blood glucose levels and moderating glucose intake can help people prevent the more damaging complications of type 2 diabetes.
For those with types 1 diabetes, taking insulin is the only way to moderate and control the effects of the condition.
Diabetes is a life-changing condition that requires careful blood sugar management and a healthy lifestyle for a person to be able to manage it correctly. There are several different types of the disease.
Type I occurs when the body does not produce insulin. Type 2 happens when excess consumption of high-sugar foods flood the blood supply with glucose and reduce the production and effectiveness of insulin.
People can take supplementary insulin to manage the condition and improve glucose absorption. If a person has prediabetes, they can reduce the risk of full diabetes through regular exercise and a balanced, low-sugar diet.
The complications of diabetes can be severe, including kidney failure and stroke, so managing the condition is vital.
Anyone who suspects they may have diabetes should visit their doctor.