Blood Glucose Monitors for Improved Management of Diabetes
Diabetes includes a trio of disorders in which the blood glucose level remains elevated for significantly longer, after eating, than in healthy subjects. The type 2 and pregnancy-related forms are reversible and not caused by insulin insufficiency. However, type 1 diabetes is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by inadequate insulin production. While blood glucose monitors now enable many diabetics to manage their treatment at home, this was not always the case.
Before such devices, living with type 1 diabetes involved regular clinic visits. While one purpose of those visits was for a physician to check for signs of the various complication associated with this condition, blood and urine tests were also an essential part of the examination. It was a relatively simple matter to test urine samples in the clinic. However, before the advent of glucose monitors, it was necessary to send blood samples to a pathology laboratory for analysis. Third-party testing would invariably result in a delay of a day or more before the results became available to the physician.
The laboratory procedures for measuring sugar levels have evolved, and some of the new methods now form the basis for the operation of various means to enable a doctor or patient to perform blood sugar measurements without recourse to a laboratory.
In practice, blood glucose monitors weren’t the earliest form of self-testing. Today, electronic devices still determine glucose levels from the intensity of the colour produced in a reagent-impregnated strip. However, when these strips made their debut in the ‘80s, the user needed to estimate the colour intensity by comparing it visually with a calibrated colour chart. While hardly a high-precision technique, the strip tests were sufficiently sensitive to identify the abnormally high or low levels that would require immediate treatment.
The Advent of Glucometers
The introduction of glucose monitors or “glucometers”, as they are often known, provided a means to eliminate the risk of personal error when making comparisons by eye. Nevertheless, apart from the reading stage, the technique for performing these tests remains much the same.
The patient or doctor collects a small drop of blood by pricking a finger with a sterile lancet. After applying the droplet to a reagent strip and leaving it for the recommended period, the sugar level is calculated by scanning the strips with the meter. The strips and lancets are single-use products and are available from the suppliers of compatible blood glucose monitors in different sized packs as consumables.
Continued research has produced devices with improved performance, although, unfortunately, there has been little progress in the attempt to develop a non-invasive procedure for monitoring sugar levels. That said, there is no doubt that the Accu-Chek Combo insulin pump system represents a notable advance in diabetes management technology.
Consuming carbohydrates causes sugar levels to increase. In healthy subjects, pancreatic insulin quickly returns that level to normal, but diabetics must inject the necessary dose. The Accu-check device consists of a pump connected via a cannula to the abdomen or buttocks and wirelessly connected to a blood glucose monitor. Based on the glucose reading and the number of carbs eaten, the pump then delivers sufficient insulin to compensate. These innovative devices and most other requirements for effective diabetes management are all available in South Africa from Omninela Medical.