If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with diabetes recently, or your prediabetes has progressed to diabetes, you may be wondering what your treatment options are. Or, you could be wondering how you should monitor and improve your health.
There are a number of resources out there, including a variety of helpful tools.
One of the most important tools in your healthcare kit is the glucose monitor. This handy device should go everywhere with you. It will help you understand your health, and you’ll know what actions to take next to care for yourself better.
What is Glucose?
Glucose is a simple sugar made of six carbon atoms, six oxygen atoms, and twelve hydrogen atoms. Each glucose molecule circulates through the blood system – and is what we call blood sugar. Plants also create glucose during photosynthesis.
Glucose is the most important source of energy for living creatures, both plant and animal. In plants, it is called starch, and in humans and animals, it is called glycogen.
How Does Glucose Effect the Body?
Glucose, when processed and used correctly by the body, is the primary source of energy. The other source is fat burning, or ketosis. When glucose is stored properly for energy, it becomes glycogen.
To counter the production of too much glucose, the body also creates insulin.
What is Insulin?
Insulin is the sort of counter-balance of blood sugar. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas to keep blood sugar in check by unlocking the body’s cells and letting sugar from the blood in.
If the body produces too much glucose, and not enough insulin, the body gets out of balance, and health problems begin to develop. The main health issues created by an imbalance between glucose and insulin is diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, simply put, is the result of a body being unable to produce enough insulin to counter the glucose in the system.
There are different forms of diabetes, including both insulin dependent and non-insult dependent types. Most commonly, people are familiar with Type 1 – juvenile diabetes, and Type 2 – adult on-set diabetes, or gestational diabetes – a temporary form only found when a woman is pregnant.
What is a Glucose Monitor?
A glucose meter, glucometer, or blood sugar monitor, is a medical device that tells you the approximate amount of glucose in your blood. This device is vital for helping keep track of your blood sugar levels when at home and work.
Those with diabetes must keep a close watch on their blood sugar levels. Without that understanding of blood sugar levels, you may put yourself in danger. If blood sugar gets too high, and stays too high, you may develop severe complications. Some of these complications may include:
- Ketoacidosis – a dangerous condition that can lead to diabetic coma and even death
- Heart attack
- Lower limb amputation
- Skin complications
- Gastroparesis – a condition that may cause bezoars, which cause blockages in the digestive system
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Because of the significant health risks someone with diabetes faces with unchecked blood sugar levels, it’s vital for every diabetic patient to use a glucose meter to keep awareness of their glucose levels.
A glucose meter generally works by the user pricking a fingertip with a lancet or a “pen” that will quickly bounce a needle against their skin – and retrieving a single drop of blood. This blood is then placed on the reader or glucose strip used by the monitor. The results are almost instantaneous.
There are a large number of glucometers available, so be sure to read through the options and reviews before purchasing. You may wish to consult with your doctor on her recommendation as well.
Be sure to always completely read and follow the directions that come with your blood sugar monitor, even if you’re familiar with a different brand, as there are usually several differences between monitors.
If possible, have a medical professional teach you how to use the specific monitor you have, to make sure you get the most accurate results, and cause the least amount of pain possible.
Glucose Test Strips
The alternative to a glucose meter is a glucose testing strip. For these, you would use a lancet to prick your finger to obtain the blood drop. The blood is then placed on a glucose strip, and dipped into the testing solution that will enable you to read the glucose chart.
The test paper will alter colors to show the blood sugar range of the blood sample.
Testing Your Glucose Levels
Make sure you have blood glucose meters in your healthcare toolkit. You need to have access to one several times throughout the day, so many recommend having at least two: one for home, and one for work.
Be sure you know how to properly use the glucometer you’ve chosen, and, if you’re unsure what certain instructions mean, consult a healthcare professional for tips and how-tos.
Your health is too important to do blood sugar testing haphazardly.