Blood glucose refers to the levels of glucose in one’s blood. The blood is the highway in the body which transports the sugar to your cells and these cells then use that sugar as a source of energy. For most people this glucose level is closely regulated in the body and is kept in or around 4mm and 6mm. After eating a meal, the level of glucose in the blood will increase by a few grams per hour and in the morning it is considered to be at its lowest level of the day. However not everyone’s body regulates this glucose level properly and for some people having to deal with spikes and swings in their glucose levels can be a very dangerous experience.
When one develops heightened levels of blood glucose they are considered to be hyperglycaemic however when your levels are consistently too low they are hypoglycaemic. One who has a persistently high level of blood glucose may be considered to be suffering from diabetes mellitus.
It is important to remember that while we most commonly talk about glucose levels, these are not the only types of sugars in our blood stream. Fructose and galactose are both types of sugar in our blood stream, however only the glucose is correlated with our metabolic regulation through insulin. For those suffering from hyperglycaemia though, when they choose to eat a meal which is high in carbohydrates, this can cause their glucose levels to skyrocket and to manage these levels insulin is needed. However the body’s ability to regulate the glucose levels with its own insulin is not possible and for many people the insulin injection is a common everyday event.
Blood Glucose Meters
When it comes to blood glucose meters, one of the key points associated with choosing the right one is that of that actual size of the meter itself. The goal is to have it as small as possible while still being able to accurately read the results with ease. The smaller the unit is, the easier it is to manage and carry around with you.
Next you have the test strips. These are perhaps one of the most important elements of the blood glucose meters as these are where you place the drop of blood and these are where the meter gets its results from. The strips themselves are disposable and there are three different types available. The first is the original which is a chemically coated strip that is placed into the meter. The second one is a plastic strip with a small point for you to place the blood while the third is a disc which is actually reusable so many times and offers multiple points from which to test the blood.
Then you have the coding of the test strips. This coding can be a code on the box of the strips which one has to enter in order to calibrate the blood glucose meters to the batch of test strips while others may use a small microchip. In most cases though, the ones using a microchip are the plastic strip types with the chip actually on the strip. Calibrating the meter to the strips is very important simply because a bad calibration can result in up to a 4mmol/L inaccuracy in the reading.
Blood Glucose Monitoring
When it comes to suffering from diabetes. One thing that a sufferer must do on a regular basis is to make sure that their blood glucose levels are in the normal range. In order to do this though, they will have to use a blood glucose monitor. The blood glucose monitoring is a testing of the levels of concentration that there is in the blood system of glucose.
This testing is done quite often through the piercing of the skin as a means of drawing a small amount of blood. The blood is then transferred to a blood glucose monitor where the results will be totalled; usually electronically but not always. The blood when drawn from the skin is placed on a chemically coated testing strip which can be made of fabric, plastic or even in the shape of a disc. Most test strips other than the disc-type can only be used once and therefore it is very important that the proper amount of blood is exposed to the strip or the test will be inaccurate.
Down the road in the near future, we will also be looking at the possibilities of the blood glucose monitoring implants. These are already being tested today and they are composed of an implanted device which will continuously monitor the glucose levels in the blood and add the necessary insulin should it be needed. These will also require the occasional top-up of insulin which is handled through a nozzle placed just under the skin and can be filled using a syringe.
The continuous blood glucose monitoring entails the placement of a sensor just under the level of the skin. This sensor will be connected to a transmitter and will check the glucose levels on an almost continuous basis. The results are sent from the transmitter to a receiving unit where the data is compiled and should it determine that you are in need of insulin, it will be able to automatically handle the injection.
The continuous blood glucose monitoring systems though are very expensive and are usually not covered under medical health insurance policies. For this reason the only people that are able to make use of them currently are those who have a sufficient amount of cash flow.
Blood Glucose Test
When it comes to blood glucose tests, there are two major methods for determining one’s levels. The first means of blood glucose testing is that of a chemical method. The way this works is that the chemical strip contains a reducing chemical on it designed to reduce the glucose in the blood sample resulting in the strip changing colours. Of course there are many other components in the blood stream that can be reduced, which can result in erroneous readings. For patients dealing with uraemia, their urea blood levels can be high enough to off-set the results. Luckily a more recent technique actually uses the specific glucose enzyme to develop the coloured results which is far less susceptible to erroneous results.
Both of these forms of the blood glucose test are reliant on chemical coated testing strips. Each type of meter has its very own test strip and no two are interchangeable. In the cheaper testing method, there is no real meter, but rather the strip is coated with one’s blood, after a set period of time the excess blood is wiped away reviewing the colour change of the strip which is then checked against a colour wheel. However there is a great chance of errors and therefore this particular method is not readily used in most places.
There is also the blood glucose test in which the person’s urine is used as the testing fluid. When a person has a properly functioning set of kidneys, glucose levels will not be apparent until after the renal threshold is reached. As a result, this form of test will show a severe hyperglycaemic condition even though it does not really exist. The urine type test is not accurate as the results are time delayed and therefore the proper injection of insulin can not be administered in a safe period of time.
When it comes down to the blood glucose test, the most current forms which use a numerical readout are considered to be the most accurate. These new meters require very minute amounts of blood to create accurate results and therefore the pain associated with the pricking of the finger is much smaller and the results are returned within a matter of only seconds. When it comes to a blood glucose test, every second counts so the sooner and easier that you can get your results the better.
Blood Glucose Tester
When you first start looking for a blood glucose tester you will notice that there are many different sizes available. While many may tell you that the size is not important, ask yourself if you would prefer carrying around a large tester, or one that can easily be slid into your pocket.
Dealing with testing times: some blood glucose testers will show results in 60 seconds or less while others can do it in a mere 3 seconds. Furthermore, you will also need to make sure that you are getting a whole blood tester as there are two types available. The results from a plasma tester will be different from those of a whole blood. Most labs use the plasma.
On top of all of this, some of the blood glucose testers will have a built-in clock and memory capabilities to allow you to monitor your results in order to look for various trends. Some of them may be very complex and also come with data transfer capabilities allowing you to upload the results to your computer for long-term monitoring.
It does not matter which blood glucose tester you choose, as long as you can get the results that you need in order to maintain your levels to as close to normal as physically possible. Above all though, just remember that you need to constantly keep monitoring your blood glucose levels and if need be, injecting yourself with insulin. Remember, diabetes can be a matter of life or death if the blood glucose levels are not monitored and controlled properly.