Understanding Glucose Testing

Glucose testing can save lives. By monitoring their glucose levels diabetics know when they need more or less insulin. Even non-diabetics can benefit from glucose testing. A test result of more than 180 for longer than a week is considered high and can indicate a need for dietary changes, more exercise and/or beginning insulin treatment.

Why Test?

Because too much or too little glucose (a carbohydrate that creates energy) in the blood can cause weakness, fainting and even coma, diabetics must test their glucose levels daily. People who are not diabetic should be tested at least once a year by their doctor during their annual physical to gauge their possibility of developing diabetes. If high levels of insulin are caught quickly enough, patients can sometimes prevent the need to take insulin. A healthy diet and exercise program have been proven to lower insulin levels.

When to Test

Diabetics should test their glucose levels at least twice daily–in the morning before they eat breakfast and at night before bedtime are strongly recommended. Depending on your personal conditions, you may need to test yourself another eight times during the day.

Testing Monitors

There are numerous glucose monitors available on the market today. Monitors have shrunk in size since their introduction in the 1970s and are also easier to use. Most no longer require you to program a code into them and the amount of a blood needed to test has been cut down. There are even a few monitor/cell phone combinations available on the market now. A continuous monitoring system is currently being developed which would do away with having to take blood samples altogether.

How to Test

Test kits come with a lancet that you insert a needle into to get your sample. The monitors have a slot for a test strip to be inserted. After the strip is in the monitor, you prick yourself with the lancet and put the resulting blood drop on the strip. Within seconds your glucose level appears on the monitor. It’s a good idea to keep a log of your results to share with your doctor.

Cost of Testing

Glucose monitors themselves are often available for free from manufacturer websites. The main expense in glucose testing comes from the test strips which can cost up to a dollar a piece. Some insurance companies will cover the cost of testing supplies. They realize that preventative medicine is cheaper in the long run than having people develop a serious disease like diabetes.

With smaller samples now required and testing monitors now available for free there are not many valid arguments against glucose testing at home. When you consider that a couple of seconds of discomfort a day may keep the need for insulin away it really is a small price to pay.


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