Monitoring your blood sugar levels can be an uncomfortable task. Options range from urine tests to drawing your blood for a glucose (blood sugar) meter to measure. Previously, this was all done in your doctor’s office, and still is for some, but for diabetics regular tests have to be done, and the luxury of self testing only became a prescription free option in the late 1970’s.
Diabetics must check blood glucose levels periodically throughout the day in order to determine how high or low glucose levels are to treat themselves accordingly.
How to Self-Test Your Blood Sugar:
- Clean area of skin/finger (toe or heal for children)
- Prick, only deep enough, to draw blood
- Drip blood onto test strip
- Insert the test strip into the glucose meter
The glucose meter will display the blood glucose level.
Accuracy of Blood Sugar Tests
- It is important to have the correct strips for your meter.
- To preserve the integrity of your strips they should not be exposed.
- Take one out, secure lid immediately
- Use strip immediately after closing test strip container
Glucose (Blood Sugar) Meters
Since the late 1970’s, the FDA and CDC have been working towards increasing the standards by which glucose meters are designed to output accurate results. In 1999, the meters were outputting results which had a margin of error of approximately 20%. These results influenced the treatment diabetics; an error so large could be dangerous.
Over the last 30 years, glucose monitors have become more reliable, however aside from home use, these monitors are used for clinical and physician testing, as a result the FDA has continued to pressure manufacturers to tighten the margin of error on the glucose meters. The FDA has also continued research into these meters, pushing for improvements.
Self Blood Sugar Urine Tests
When blood glucose levels are high, glucose can be found in urine (glycosuria). In the past, testing glycosuria was common, however since blood testing become popular on the market they took over as the common method for testing blood sugar levels. Urine accumulates in the bladder and can be kept for a few hours. Therefore urine glucose results can show sugar levels from earlier, where as blood test results show sugar levels in the blood at the time of the test.
How to self-test urine glucose:
- Urinate into a sterile cup
- Place dipstick in urine
- Wait for color to change
- Compare color to chart on test package
Future of Blood Sugar Monitoring
MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering has been researching a method of self testing which is less invasive, called “Tattoo”. They have created nanotubes wrapped in polymer which would be injected under the skin. These nanoparticles are designed to detect blood sugar levels, and with the help of a device, much like a wrist watch, glucose levels can be read.
The researchers are working on an “ink” made from the nanoparticles which can be tattooed to the skin. The ink would last for something like 6 months, at which time it would need to be renewed due to expiry.
The blood sugar monitor (wristwatch device) would shine light onto the tattoo to detect fluorescence. The fluorescence is the result of the nanoparticles detecting glucose, and the monitor outputs the levels of glucose continuously.
Aside from the initial “tattoo” this technology will eventually help to eliminate the daily finger pricking for diabetics.
More Information about Blood Sugar Tests:
Diabetes Self Management: Website for People Managing Diabetes
Information and resources for people living with diabetes with articles about home blood sugar testing and more.
Lab Tests Online: Glucose
Website with general information about blood sugar and available tests.
Kids Health: Blood Test – Glucose
Explains what a blood glucose test is and why it is important.
WebMD: Urine Tests
General information about urine tests including glucose.
Mendosa: Meter (Blood Sugar) Memoires – How Tom, Dick, and Charlie Did It
Article about the history of blood sugar meters and treatments for diabetes.
dLife: For Your Diabetes Life
Website full of information and resources for people living with diabetes.
Diabetes Mine: Website for People Living with Diabetes
Blog with patient stories and information about diabetes with news and updates regarding blood sugar tests and more.