Monitoring the blood sugar throughout the day is vitally important to regulating blood sugar levels and knowing whether a particular blood sugar treatment is working. Knowing what affects blood sugar levels, such as stress, illness, medications, diet, and exercise, and how those factors raise or lower blood sugar, can help individuals suffering from diabetes, pre-diabetes (also known as insulin resistance), or other blood glucose disorders maintain a lifestyle that prevents serious complications from their condition. Choosing a blood sugar monitor can feel overwhelming, but with a little knowledge, finding the right fit will be easy.
Blood sugar monitors may be purchased over-the-counter from a local pharmacy. Monitors come with small lancets that poke the finger to draw a drop or so of blood. The blood can be transferred to a test strip that is then inserted into the blood sugar monitor. The monitor will use the blood and test strip to determine how much glucose is in the blood, and give a reading on a digital screen. Most people will need to consider what their insurance companies will pay for a blood sugar monitor or be willing to spend extra money to get the specific monitor they want. Test strips are the most expensive component of the machine, and can run up to $1.00 per strip.
Some monitors will draw blood from many different sites on the body, such as the upper arm or leg, while others work only on the finger. This might be an important feature for someone suffering from another pain disorder or for someone who tests the blood frequently to counteract the soreness that may accompany frequent skin pricks. Still others find pricking the fingers to be painful and bothersome, since the fingers are used often in daily tasks. Other monitors require a smaller quantity of blood to produce an accurate reading and therefore do not prick the skin as deeply. Some newer models work to continuously record blood sugar data through a sensor placed under the skin. While expensive, this device sounds an alarm whenever blood sugar levels get too high or too low, which could be the difference between health and serious complications.
The speed at which the reading is given may be important if you suffer from hypoglycemia. With dangerously low levels of blood sugar, it is vital to get a quick reading to ensure enough time and brain functioning to treat the condition by eating some glucose. For diabetic patients also suffering from hyperthyroidism, symptoms of hypoglycemia may be present even when the blood sugar is dangerously elevated.
Another interesting feature of some blood sugar monitors is data memory and helpful software. Some monitoring systems can record up to 500 tests, making it easier to share with your doctor the results of your past readings. Software is available on some machines that syncs with your computer to record trends in your readings. This also allows you to easily share the results with your physician.
The main factor involved in choosing the right blood sugar monitor is to determine how easy the monitor is for you. Someone with vision problems may need a monitor that has larger text. A person on the go that often needs to check her blood sugar while away from home may prefer a monitor that is small and compact. Still others might have tremors in the hands and desire a monitor that automatically feeds the test strips from an interior container.
Whatever your specific needs, there are plenty of options when it comes to selecting the best blood sugar monitor. If you are currently or suspect you may be suffering from blood sugar irregularities, just be sure to pick up a monitor. This is the first step in managing your condition.