One in every 3 people in the United States has diabetes. This epidemic is not surprising in a country as affluent as the U.S. Raised on the joys of sweets, having the affluence to buy foods rich in carbohydrates, and being somewhat sedentary in our life style, we Americans have unwittingly become the victims of our own abundance. There’s nothing to be gained out of castigating ourselves now. If you have just learned that you have diabetes, you’ve also learned that you’re stuck with it for life. Now the question is what you need to do to minimize the impact on the length and quality of your life.
That question is partially answered by the commitment to reduce your carbohydrate intake, probably to about 120 grams a day if your diabetic condition has been discovered in the early stage. The other part of the answer is to monitor your blood glucose level with a glucose testing meter.
Monitoring your glucose level gives you control over your condition. It allows you to know at what level your glucose is at the time of testing. This knowledge permits you to take corrective action. For instance, if you take your glucose test a few hours before a meal and it is significantly higher than your norm, you might avoid ingesting carbs at your next meal. You might also decide to do some carbohydrate burning exercises to bring your levels down. You may adjust your medication schedule based on your level as determined by the test. If you are feeling diabetes symptoms acutely, you may test your glucose level to determine if it is dangerously high. If it is, you might opt to go to your hospital’s emergency intake where a doctor can determine if you should be administered an insulin injection. Monitoring your glucose level on a regular basis can save your life.
A glucose testing meter allows you to conveniently test your glucose levels anywhere and at any time. Several different meters are available at retail stores and pharmacies, and many manufacturers even give them away for free. Most monitors use the same measuring technology, or some version of it, for glucose monitors. Basically, a minute quantity of blood, about a micro liter, just a small drop of blood, is drawn from the fingertip by piercing it with a fine lancet. One end of a test strip is inserted into the glucose testing meter and the other end is used to scoop up the drop of blood. The test strip has been chemically treated to react to the blood. The electrical characteristic of the blood as it reacts with the test strip is sensed by the hand size meter and the electric pulses generated is translated into a glucose level reading that is displayed on the LED screen of the meter.
A glucose testing meter may come with only this basic function, or with added features. Many have an internal read-write memory chip that can store as many as 500 tests along with the date and time of the test. Many generate 7, 14, and 30 day averages. Still others can have stored values downloaded into a computer with software that generates various reports on the history and tendencies indicated by the data over time.
The glucose testing meter has been around since the early ’80s and is still evolving. New technology will reduce the pain associated with piercing and will increase precision and reliability. If you’ve just learned that you have diabetes, get your glucose testing meter as soon as possible and use it as your doctor prescribes. It can help you control diabetes and assure you live a long and healthy life.