Hopefully, you or a loved one did not discover you or they have diabetes through some horrifying event caused by a sudden diabetic crisis that sent you to the emergency room, there to discover you or your loved one has diabetes. Hopefully, you learned you have it through a routine checkup. Whichever way you learned of your condition, you know now,and you’ve probably been told, to get a diabetes glucose monitor. As long as you have diabetes, and you know it will be for the rest of your life, a diabetes glucose monitor, or a replacement unit, is going to be with you from now on. So, let’s get to know this life-saving instrument.
A diabetes glucose monitor either looks like a computer mouse or a small TV remote control. It is battery powered. Most are contoured to be easily held with soft sides for firm gripping. These have an LED display that takes up most of the front face of the device and a slot at one end in which you insert a test strip. In addition to the monitor, you are given a device in which you insert a lancet, a short needle on a plastic base, that is usually spring-fired to shove the needle a minute distance to pierce the skin of your fingertip and cause a drop of blood to seep out. You’ll scoop up the drop with the test strip, which may already be inserted into the meter or which may be inserted after you scoop up the blood. This depends on the particular monitor and model you’re using. In about 5 to 45 seconds, your meter displays your current glucose reading. Based on that reading, you may have to take some corrective action. You then remove and discard the strip, and return the meter to its pouch.
The test strip you insert into your diabetes glucose monitor has been chemically treated to react with the drop of blood. Most meters sense an electrical characteristic of the drop to determine the concentration of glucose in the drop and this data is transformed into the numeric reading displayed on the monitor. This strip and measurement is a refined technology, one that must exclude such non-glucose sugars as galactose and maltose. A meter takes test strips made specially for the particular meter. Until recently, a code associated with the test strips batch had to be entered into the meter, so that the meter could properly calibrate, since strips vary by batch. With the new no-coding technology implemented for most diabetes glucose meters, this is no longer necessary. The code is either pre-coded on the strip, or the user inserts a chip that comes with the batch into the meter. This eliminates the possibility of entry error, that could have dire consequences.
Diabetes glucose monitors have enabled diabetics to take corrective steps if their blood glucose level is dangerously low or high. These have also enabled diabetics to modify meals before or after readings to control their intake of carbohydrates, or to adjust insulin volume. Now, many meters provide 7, 14, and 30 day averages. Many meters store readings that can be downloaded into a computer with software that can analyze patterns and give a better idea of the disease’s development and progression. Some are even child-friendly, awarding computer game points that reward the child for taking prescribed, regular measurements. With these points, game levels may be opened and even gifts can be obtained.
There are a variety of diabetes glucose monitors available on the market and many manufacturers even provide the first one monitor at no cost. They differ by technologies used, as well as features. If you’re new to diabetes, search the internet for glucose monitors or glucose meters comparisons to find the one most suitable for you. You can always get more than one, since these are relatively inexpensive. You can get them in different colors and sizes, one that you might carry in your pocket, and another one in your car. The glucose monitor is now a constant in your life. Get the one that does what you need it to do, and the one that pleases you.