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What Type of Diabetes Test is Right for Me?

Over the years, the most common method of monitoring diabetes at home has been with finger stick monitors. This involves pricking the finger with a lancet to obtain a few drops of blood. This can be done several times a day, depending on individual needs, and is not only time-consuming but a painful ordeal. It can often be worse when the patient is a child. 

Monitoring blood sugar is essential in the management of diabetes because if the level of sugar is left unregulated, it can lead to devastating complications. Thankfully, today newer technology has led to the development of several types of blood sugar monitors which do not utilize finger pricks. If you need to monitor your blood glucose levels at home, before you purchase any type of diabetes test, you should speak to your healthcare provider and/or a diabetic nurse to know which option is right for you.

The Standard Glucometer

The standard glucometer has been around for four decades and is used by millions of diabetics globally to monitor blood sugar levels. These devices work by analyzing the level of the sugar in a very small amount of blood obtained from a fingertip prick. A lancet is used to prick the fingertip and the blood is placed onto the glucose strip, which is then inserted into the glucometer. 

The meter provides a reading within a few seconds. Besides the finger, some devices also allow blood to be obtained from the forearm, upper arm, the base of the thumb, and upper thigh. However, the blood glucose results obtained from these areas may differ from the blood sugar monitor with finger pricks, especially following a meal or exercise. If you have symptoms of low blood sugar, obtaining the blood sugar levels from these body parts may not be reliable. 

There are more than three dozen glucometers diabetes tests on the market, but you first need a prescription from your healthcare provider or a diabetic nurse to be able to get refunded the cost from your health insurance, depending on the type of coverage you have. To use the glucometer, you also need to purchase the supplies, which include strips, lancets, needles, and alcohol pads. 

You will also need to purchase a needle and lancet disposal container. Many of the latest glucometers will even record the glucose levels and store the data, which you can download on your PC or smartphone. The cost of the glucometers depends on the following features:

  • Audio capabilities for the visually impaired
  • Backlit screen to see in low light
  • Data storage or memory
  • Level of functionality
  • Preloaded test strips for those who have difficulty using their hands
  • Size
  • USB port to connect to your PC or smartphone

Machine Capabilities

The majority of glucometers provide a result within 15 seconds and the data will be stored. Some of these meters will calculate your average blood glucose over one week or one month. Some machines can provide a chart display so that you can see the trend in your blood sugars over a period of time. When you see your healthcare provider, you need to show him or her this chart. 

The cost of glucometers varies from $50-$300, depending on their functionality. For those who cannot afford a glucometer, the manufacturer or the local diabetic foundation may provide one for free. Despite the advances in technology, the glucometer has withstood the test of time and is very accurate.

Blood Sugar Monitor Without Finger Pricks

In recent years, newer glucose monitors have been developed that do not require pricking the finger. Because pricking your fingertip time after time can be very painful, many diabetics often do not perform this test as often as they should, or even not at all, and, consequently, they have no idea of the measurement of their blood glucose levels. 

Thankfully, we now have devices referred to as non-invasive monitors that can continuously track your blood sugars.  The continuous blood glucose meters are useful if you want to know the trends in your sugar levels. 

To use some of these devices, the doctor will need to insert a tiny sensor under the skin to check the blood sugar every 5-10 minutes. The device will send the data to a monitor which you wear on your waist. There are other non-invasive monitors which have a sensor that is applied to the ear lobe or to the webspace at the base of your thumb.

The continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) diabetes tests can measure glucose levels every 5 minutes and come with a sensor, receiver, transmitter, and a display unit that provides real-time data. The data can be stored on a PC or a smartphone. In addition, each component of the CGM has its own price, and replacement of these parts is very common.

The CGMs also need regular calibration and the user should follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the device. There are at least four such machines on the market and several others still awaiting approval for release.

  1. FreeStyle Libre is available in the U.S. and consists of a small sensor patch that is applied on the upper arm and can be worn for up to two weeks. The patch monitors the glucose levels continuously in the tissue fluids underneath the skin. The results can be downloaded on an app or to a reading device.
  2. Glucotrack monitors blood sugar levels through a combination of electromagnetic, ultrasonic, and thermal waves. The sensor is clipped onto the ear. 
  3. Eversense is a device that is implanted underneath the skin and can monitor glucose levels for up to 12 weeks. It utilizes the technique of fluorescence to check levels of glucose. The data is then sent to a transmitter that displays the numbers
  4. Glucowise is another device that uses a sensor placed on the ear lobe or the webspace between the thumb and forefinger. The real-time data is then sent to a smartphone app.

How do the Continuous Glucose Monitors Work?

The continuous blood glucose monitors do not need a sample of blood. The devices can detect glucose in the body tissues just below the skin. The non-invasive glucose monitors are effective and offer convenience, but they are not as accurate as of traditional glucometers. The majority of newer continuous glucose monitors can store the glucose data and even allow you to transmit the data via a smartphone to your healthcare provider or a diabetic nurse.

What are the Costs of a Non-Invasive Glucose Monitor?

To obtain a non-invasive glucose monitor, you first need to see your healthcare provider and determine if it is suitable for you. In general, if your blood glucose levels are fluctuating and difficult to manage, a continuous blood glucose monitor can be used to determine the trend and what type of treatment will be best for you. 

For example, if you suffer from hypoglycemic episodes, continuous monitors will detect them. But if your blood glucose levels are stable, then it is best to use the standard glucometer as they are more accurate.

You will need a prescription from your healthcare provider to obtain a non-invasive blood glucose monitor. Most insurers cover the cost of these machines. However, there may be some out-of-pocket costs for the supplies. Most insurers will cover the basic glucose meters but will not cover the most advanced, more expensive devices.

Manufacturers regularly provide coupons and offer discounts for non-invasive glucose monitors. Without insurance, the cost of a non-invasive glucose monitor is about $100 a month and an additional $50-$70 for supplies.

Conclusion

No matter which blood glucose monitor you use, whether it is a blood sugar monitor without finger pricks or another model, you will still need to get your blood sugar levels monitored at least once a month by your healthcare provider. This will ensure that the machine you are using is providing accurate results.  CanoHealth wants you to have better health and is committed to providing the services you need.  Call them today at 1.855.226.6633 to learn how they can help you.

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