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Diabetes is a disease in which the blood glucose or sugar levels in our system are too high. The principal source of glucose is in the foods we eat: starchy foods such as bread, rice and potatoes or from sugar and sweet foods. Our blood carries the glucose to all of the cells in the body providing it with energy. Under normal circumstances insulin (a chemical also called a hormone) made by the pancreas triggers the cells in the liver, muscle and fat tissue to absorb the glucose from the blood and store it in the liver and muscles. If the body does not produce enough insulin, or if the insulin does not function the way it should, glucose cannot get into your cells, instead it stays in the blood. Your blood glucose level then gets too high, resulting in prediabetes or diabetes.
Blood Glucose Monitoring is highly recommended for anyone suffering with the disease whether it is done by oneself or a caregiver. Monitoring highlights patterns of blood glucose changes. The information gathered can then be used to determine the most effective way of managing your illness. This may involve dietary adjustments, exercise and scheduling of your insulin dosages. Testing also indicates when emergency measures need to be taken in response to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) levels.
One of the most invaluable tools used for the monitoring of blood sugar levels is the Blood Glucose Monitor. There are a wide variety of blood glucose monitors available to the diabetic but the operational principle is practically the same for all. A sample of blood is drawn through use of a lancet (quantities vary depending on the meter) and placed onto a blood glucose strip, this is then inserted into the meter, within a short time the meter gives a digital record along with a readout of your blood glucose level. A blood glucose chart (log) is also an essential part of your monitoring requirements. The chart is used to keep a daily record of your blood sugar levels which can be invaluable to you, your doctor and/or healthcare professional.
Choosing A Blood Glucose Monitor
Due to the abundance of monitors available, choosing one can be a daunting task, here are some tips which may assist you in finding the right blood glucose monitor to meet your needs. Although price may be a factor in your choice, this should not be the main criteria for your final selection.
- You will need a meter that can be easily read, especially if there a problems with your vision. One with a large digital readout will be adequate in this situation.
- The quantity of blood required for testing also varies it would be prudent to choose a meter which requires a minimal amount of blood while still providing accurate readings. A meter which offers multi-site testing would also be recommended.
- Some meters may need programming if you are not confident in your ability to do this, you can choose one that is preprogrammed.
- A major feature of the new blood glucose monitor is the memory capacity. Some monitors save only the last blood test while others may save up to five hundred (500) previous results. This capacity does affect the cost so you will have to decide what is appropriate for your personal needs.
- Depending on your situation the size of the meter may be a factor. Blood Glucose Monitors can vary in size. They can be as small as a cell phone but your manual dexterity must be taken into consideration when making a purchase, in addition it will also affect the display size.
- Consider the cost of the testing strips for whichever monitor you choose. Depending on the frequency of your testing this can be an extremely expensive proposition.
Anyone suffering from a chronic illness knows that controlling or overcoming the illness can be extremely costly. Diabetes is no exception. Your health comes first but with prudence it is possible to minimize the cost while still maintaining and improving ones quality of life. Self monitoring increases patient involvement in self-care but can only be effective if done correctly and in parallel with your health-care provider or doctor. Added suggestions for those living with diabetes is to participate in a diabetes education program, exercise when possible and follow a strict diet as recommended by your doctor.