Alternative Site Testing
Some glucose meters are designed to test blood from alternative sites on your body, such as the upper arm, thigh, calf, forearm, or base of the thumb. Drawing blood from these alternative sites may be desirable, especially for people who have chronic soreness or finger pain as a result of frequent pricking.
However, testing from these sites has its limitations. Blood in the fingertips shows changes in blood glucose more accurately and faster than blood in other parts of the body. That means the readings from alternative site testing may be different (and therefore less reliable) than readings taken from the fingertip. Though promising, further research is needed to better understand the value of the different readings and implications it may have on the health of people with diabetes.
Researchers believe this technology will allow for testing without drawing blood. This test is performed by shining a beam of light on the skin. The light penetrates the skin and measures blood sugar levels. Variations in blood pressure, body temperature, and room conditions can affect the accuracy of infrared spectroscopy. Therefore, it may be important to perform a traditional blood sugar test periodically to confirm the infrared monitor’s readings.
Worn on the arm like a wristwatch, this device uses electric currents to repeatedly pull tiny amounts of fluid from the skin to a sensor pad where the glucose in the fluid is measured. (It does not actually puncture the skin.) If your blood sugar level dips too far or becomes too high, it sounds an alarm. It is not effective if worn while you are sweating, and it may cause possible skin irritation. As with infrared spectroscopy, you will still have to test with a traditional meter to confirm readings.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring
This technique uses a small plastic catheter placed just under the skin to measure blood sugar levels. The device then transmits each reading to a small recording device worn on the body. As with the wristwatch device, the continuous glucose monitor will sound an alarm if your blood sugar level becomes too low or too high.
An important note: This test is not meant to replace traditional blood glucose tests. It is designed to monitor trends and patterns (looking for episodes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia) instead of individual results, so you will likely still have to prick your finger several times a day.