Dr Aidin Rawshani

Blood glucose meter: devices, how to and why measure blood sugar


Blood glucose meter for you with diabetes: how and why to measure blood sugar

The management of diabetes has become easier with the improvement of technology. Today, several patients use continuous blood glucose meters at home to constantly control blood sugar levels. The technology provides an opportunity to create diagrams of one’s own blood sugar trends, save dates for certain blood sugar values, insulin doses and the amount of training.

The majority of individuals with diabetes measure blood sugar levels through a normal blood glucose meter where you stick on a part of the body, usually your fingertips and record the sugar content in a drop of blood. A low value (P-glucose < 3 mmol/L) should always be addressed.

In certain conditions, blood sugar should be monitored more frequently, for example in infections, associated with heavy physical exertion, long trips, concomitant corticosteroid therapy and long driving.

Patients with type 2 diabetes and only tablet therapy treated with either Metformin, Glitazones, GLP-1 analogs, DPP4 inhibitors and SGLT-2 inhibitors do not need to monitor blood sugar daily as the risk of blood sugar falls (hypoglycemia) is very rare.

In elderly individuals with diabetes, the aim is not to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications without reducing the risk of acute complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis or hypoglycemia, therefore it is more accepted that older individuals have higher blood sugar levels.

The margin of error in blood glucose measurement
P-glucoseLower limitUpper limit

The precision of blood glucose meters can be influenced by several factors, and people with diabetes who regularly check their blood glucose values should know the upper and lower limits to estimate where their actual blood glucose levels are. The temperature can affect these machines that work best at room temperature. Your healthcare professional may then use this information to improve your treatment, for example, by informing about food choices and amounts of food, helping to make drug dosage decisions and identifying periods of high and low blood glucose levels.

All people who use insulin for the treatment of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes should regularly monitor their blood sugar levels. Some people who use medicines from the drug group Sulfonylurea, should also test their blood sugar levels to identify periods of low blood sugar levels because the drug is associated with blood sugar drops.

Individuals with diabetes have different attitudes when it comes to controlling blood sugar. Many people believe that regular checks on blood sugar are not helpful and only contribute to anxiety. However, several others, especially those who are aware of how to interpret the results and take appropriate measures, are interested in regularly monitoring their blood sugar levels to optimize their diabetes treatment.

People with type 1 diabetes should test their blood sugar levels at least 4 times a day, including before each meal and before going to bed, some people with type 1 diabetes check their blood sugar levels about 10 times daily. In the Västra Götaland region, the cost of 10 blood glucose measurements per day is estimated to be around 10,000kr per year.

People with type 2 diabetes not treated with insulin usually do not have access to blood glucose meters at home but there is evidence that structured monitoring of blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes is beneficial and may improve their diabetes control.

Blood glucose measurement is a major part of diabetes treatment for people with diabetes and regular test sites on the body can become painful over time, therefore experts have identified alternative test sites. The fingertips are traditionally used for blood sugar tests because they have many capillaries (small vessels), but the fingertips have many nerve endings and are therefore sensitive. Alternative test sites are the palm, the upper part of the forearm, abdomen and thigh. Not all blood glucose monitors can measure blood glucose levels from all of these body locations, but fingertips, abdomen and thigh tend to work for most blood glucose meters.

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