May 17, 2017

Testing Blood Glucose at Home – Part 2

Diabetes cannot be diagnosed solely by home testing. People with unusual readings will need further testing by a doctor.

Tests might include fasting tests, plasma glucose test, tests following consumption of a glucose solution (or oral glucose tolerance test - OGTT), HbA1c tests, or a combination of these.

When deciding on a blood glucose meter to purchase, a few factors should be considered. A blood glucose meter, testing strips, and a lancet that holds the lances to draw the blood are all necessary for testing. Some testing kits offer all four, while others require purchasing each piece separately.

People should consider the cost of testing strips as well as the meter itself, since people with diabetes use many testing strips. Some other tips for buying a meter include:
  • selecting one with automatic coding
  • checking insurance plans to see if the insurer only covers certain meters
  • looking at whether the unit stores previous data
  • considering portability, since larger units can be harder to carry
  • weighing blood sample size, particularly for people who do not like pricking themselves

Meters that use a smaller sample size will also use a less painful stick. Many people with diabetes have no symptoms at all. As a result, the absence of symptoms does not necessarily mean the absence of diabetes.

Many of the symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the same, since both affect the body's ability to regulate blood glucose. Those symptoms include:
  • increased hunger and thirst
  • increased urination, particularly at night
  • unexplained weight loss
  • tiredness that is not well-explained by something else, such as sleep deprivation
  • blurred vision
  • slow-healing sores, or wounds that appear to heal and then reopen
  • high blood pressure

Pregnant women who suddenly experience these symptoms should consider the possibility of diabetes. The placenta releases hormones during pregnancy that can make it more difficult for the body to control blood sugar. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause a range of pregnancy complications.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and can lead to a host of complications. These include:
  • Increased hunger and thirst, as well as increased urination at night, may be symptoms of diabetes.
  • cardiovascular problems, including stroke, heart attack, and blood clots
  • wounds, numbness, tingling, and even loss of feet or limbs
  • kidney failure
  • nerve damage
  • chronic headaches
  • blindness

Early interventions can reduce the risk of severe or fatal diabetes complications. The right combination of medication and lifestyle changes may even help reverse some cases of diabetes.

People performing home diabetes testing who have unusually high results, particularly more than once, should see their doctors. People with diabetes whose blood glucose is poorly controlled, or whose blood glucose suddenly changes, should also consult a doctor.

Changes in diet, medication, or both may be recommended. Diabetes can be well-controlled by managing carbohydrate intake, and exercising regularly,

People with prediabetes are at risk for developing diabetes if blood glucose is not managed. It's especially important for people with prediabetes to talk to their doctors, and to continue regular blood glucose testing.

Part 2 of 3 parts

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