blood glucose meters; a major component of diabetes management plan.

Diabetes management requires having an accurate idea of your blood glucose levels. Blood glucose meters are one such medical device which simplifies everyday diabetes treatment. Urine testing is important but having an accurate blood sugar meter helps you to stay on top of your disease. Glucose meters are easy to use and handy, literally the size of your palms. You can ensure that your blood glucose levels are checked at the right time at home, office, school or playtime. These are battery operated and portable.

History of blood glucose meters

The first glucose enzyme electrode was developed in the year 1962, by Clark and Lyons at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. It included a thin layer of glucose oxidase on an oxygen electrode. The sensor measured the amount of oxygen consumed by the enzyme. Another early glucose meter was the Ames Reflectance Meter used in American hospitals in the 70’s. About 10 inches long the meter needed connection to an electrical outlet for power. After about a minute a moving needle would indicate blood glucose.

Home glucose monitoring of type 1 diabetes was only done in the late 1970s, and the first meters were marketed for home use around 1980. The two dominant models in the 1980s were the Glucometer whose trademark is owned by Bayer and the Accu-chek meter by Roche. In the 1980s the test strips that changed color and could be read “visually”, without a meter were popular. They could be cut with scissors longitudinally to save money. However as accuracy and insurance coverage improved, they lost popularity.
Home glucose testing for type II diabetes was accepted more slowly than for diabetes type I.

Types of blood glucose meters

The glucose meters that we usually use have test strips that contain chemicals that react with glucose to measure the levels. There are some models that even come with plastic test strips that have small spot with glucose oxidase and other components which are used for measuring the levels. You prick your fingertip with a lancet that comes with the glucose meters and hold it down until a small drop of blood appears which you need to catch on the test strip. You then have to insert the test strip and use the SMBG and record the test results. These strips are one time and should be discarded. Now-a-days you also have some models that come with discs that may be used for several readings. Nowadays there are meters that also include a clock that can be set for date and time and memory for past test results. The memory option is important as it helps diabetics to keep record for management and look for the trends as well. There are even sophisticated options that allow downloading data by a cable to a computer with diabetes management software to display test results. Some glucose meters also allow testing blood from alternative sites like forearm, thumb and thigh which can give your fingertips some relief. However, the results from fingertip are considered more accurate.

There are minimally invasive meters and noninvasive devices available now that are useful for continuous monitoring. They require daily calibration using standard finger stick glucose measurements. Studies are underway to find the best way to be used for diabetes management. One of the noninvasive blood glucose meters approved by FDA is the GlucoWatch G2 Biographer which can be worn on the wrist and uses electric fields to draw body fluid for testing. However, due to certain limitations like inability to cope with perspiration it is no longer being marketed.

Blood glucose meters are very important in your diabetes management. Ensure that you follow the instructions for its use and maintenance properly to get accurate results. The results would be the basis for your diet, exercise and medications.

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