Most people are aware that glucose monitoring is vital for people who are diabetic or hypoglycemic. However, many people do not realize that even those who do not have those conditions should also be tested at least annually by their doctor. You can also test yourself with an at-home glucometer (glucose meter). This quick and relatively painless test can help postpone and sometimes even prevent the need to take insulin.
The first glucometer was invented in 1962, while the first home monitors were marketed in the early 80s. Initially doctors resisted the idea of patients monitoring their own glucose levels. They argued that lab testing was the only accurate way to test. Eventually doctors gave in and now the first thing they recommend when someone is diagnosed with diabetes is that they purchase a glucose monitor.
Diabetics must faithfully monitor their glucose levels in order to know when they need to take more insulin. Some diabetics check their glucose levels up to 12 times a day. People who are borderline diabetic are often advised by their doctors to begin glucose monitoring in an effort to postpone (and in some cases prevent) the need for insulin pills and/or shots.
Modern glucose monitors can easily fit in the palm of your hand and have been simplified since they were first offered on the market. Originally, glucose monitors required patients to enter a code into their meter to program it. Meters are now available that require no coding, and the blood sample required is now much smaller than it used to be. Although “stick free” monitors are being created, currently testing still requires the injection of a lancet into the skin to get the sample. The blood then flows from the stick onto the strip. The monitor then gives a result within seconds.
The cost of testing strips (up to $1 each) can be prohibitive when a diabetic has to test 10 times a day. The actual monitor can often be acquired for free by ordering from Internet web sites. With repeated sticks on the fingertips, the most common area, soreness can be a real issue. Manufacturers now make glucose monitors that allow alternate testing sites such as the forearm.
For around $150 you can buy a combination cell phone and glucose monitor. There are hopes that in the near future glucose may be measured via a monitor that is implanted in the body.