Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition. Ongoing management is required to keep your blood glucose levels normal and your body healthy. Without proper management, the price of losing control over your diabetes is serious organ damage and even death. The risk is very real and very serious.
The good news is that with today’s modern monitoring tools, testing blood glucose levels has never been easier or gentler. Also, these days, most insurance companies pay for diabetes testing strips, glucose monitors, and even insulin. And if not, there are a plethora of aid agencies to help diabetics pay for their supplies. There’s almost no excuse for letting your diabetes get the best of you.
One of the great medical inventions of recent history is the fast-acting blood glucose test meter now available on the market. Some examples of this kind of meter include the FreeStyle meters, OneTouch Ultra meters, and the Accu-Check meters. These meters are usually the size of a small calculator and can be easily carried (along with testing strips) in a small purse or pack.
Are Fast-Acting Glucose Meters Right for You?
Before you buy a fast-acting glucose meter, it’s important to look at the features you want out of your testing device and how you are dosing insulin. For those with non-insulin dependent type 2 diabetes, the testing meter will serve as a situational awareness tool and nothing more. For those dependent on insulin injections or an insulin pump, your test meter is your lifeline to managing your everyday health.
In the early 1990s, testing sometimes took up to two minutes and meters could weigh as much as two pounds. Today’s meters are a few ounces and deliver test readings in five to six seconds. This is especially beneficial for diabetes patients experiencing symptoms of high blood sugar or low blood sugar. Fast acting glucose testing allows faster treatment and better management.
Choosing a Fast-Acting Glucose Meter
When using a glucose meter, you must first calibrate your new box of testing strips to the meter. Since testing strips are created at different factories and at different times, you must calibrate each box for the most accurate test results—even if it is of the same brand as you always use. Usually this is as simple as scanning a code on the box or using a calibration test strip.
Next, consider the reading method of your meter and its data storage ability. Many of the fast acting meters today come with special data storage and tracking applications which allow users to download their glucose level data to their computer. Tracking this data over time is very valuable. You can research which foods work well with your body and help stabilize your blood glucose. You can also research and track how your glucose levels change throughout the day.
Benefits of Fast-Acting Glucose Meters
Fast-acting blood glucose testing uses much less blood to deliver an accurate glucose reading. Older meters required a large drop of blood to give a reading, resulting in painful and unproductive samplings where a diabetes patient would have to draw blood more than once. The extra testing would also waste test strips.
Today’s glucose meters can require as little as 0.3 to 1 ?l of blood—about a tenth of what older meters needed. Most meters today prevent unneeded retesting because most samplings draw enough blood. This saves your time, money, and is very convenient. The current cost of a single strip is anywhere from 35 cents to one dollar. Most companies will send a free meter or two, which can help with the cost of long-term monitoring.
Fast-acting glucose tests can prove very valuable when you are experiencing hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Coupled with fast-acting glucose or an insulin pen, a well-calibrated meter can save you from an unnecessary hospital trip and lost time from work and your personal life. While each diabetic’s goals will vary, a good target glucose level before a meal should be between 70–130 mg/dl (5.0–7.2 mmol/l). After a meal, your glucose level should be less than <180 mg/dl (<10.0 mmol/l).
Considering the Cost
As a diabetic, it’s important to manage your blood glucose everyday. Some patients may consider blood-testing meters to be too expensive, but it is important to remember not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish—in other words, a small investment now can save you thousands of dollars in medical costs down the road. Letting your diabetes go adds to your long-term health costs because the damage from unchecked diabetes can catapult your body into organ failure or even death. Blood meters are the most accurate way to track your disease activity, and spending $30 to $90 a month on testing strips is a small cost when you consider the cost of your life.