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Monitoring your blood glucose levels

For every diabetic monitoring your own blood glucose (sugar) levels can be vitally important in controlling your diabetes. The current treatments in diabetes whether medicines or diet focus on trying to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.

There are two main ways to monitor the body's glucose levels, testing for blood glucose and testing for urine glucose. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Which method you choose depends on what your doctor advises you.

Blood glucose meters

Testing blood glucose levels has become very simple and very accessible thanks to a whole range of blood glucose meters on the market. Checking glucose in this way is the most accurate method. This is especially important for patients with Type 1 Diabetes (Insulin dependent) and some patients with Type 2 Diabetes requiring insulin. This is because some these patients can make adjustments to their insulin dose depending on the blood glucose test results. Also patients with diabetes may experience very low blood glucose levels called hypoglycaemia or very high blood glucose levels called hyperglycaemia. Often there are signs and symptoms of both. Using a blood glucose meter to get an exact reading can help reassure or confirm that action must be taken.

How does a blood glucose meter work?

The 2 main meters on the market at present are Accu-chek Aviva and One Touch Ultra. Both meters use the same basic principle. A blood sample is taken usually from the finger using a finger pricking device. The sample is placed on a specially coated test strip which is then inserted into the blood glucose meter. Within a minute the meter will give you a result. The main drawback of this method is that it does require pricking your finger each time to take a blood sample. This for some can be nuisance. However, with recent advances in meter technology the amount of blood required for Accu-chek Aviva and One touch ultra is minimal. This in turn means less pain when pricking the finger.

Urine testing

Urine strips have the advantage of being pain free but the disadvantage of not bring as accurate as a blood glucose meter.

For some, urine testing is a more then adequate method to test glucose especially for diabetics who do not need exact blood glucose levels. Glucose only appears in the urine (for most people) when glucose levels in the blood reaches above 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dl). At this point the kidney can no longer reabsorb all the glucose being filtered and glucose appears in the urine. If you blood glucose levels are below 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dL) then urine test strips will not provide a result. Thus always use a blood glucose meter when testing for low blood glucose levels, hypoglycaemia as it will give you an accurate reading regardless of what your blood glucose is.

How to use urine testing strips

The main two makes of glucose testing strips are Clinistix and Diastix. Click on either to learn more about how to use the urine strips.


Interpreting your results

How you interpret your results depends very much on the goals your doctor has set out for you and what you are testing for. A key point to remember is that blood glucose levels will be affected by food and diabetic medication.

 

Next >> Hyperglycaemia

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