Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Diagnose & Diabetic Testing

Diabetes is diagnosed by means of a blood test measuring blood sugar and is administered by a physician or health care provider. Blood glucose levels vary with food intake, so the timing of this test in relation to meals is important. To help ensure that blood glucose readings are as accurate as possible, the test is classified in the following manner:

  • a casual plasma glucose means the measurement is taken without regard to the time of the last meal;
  • a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) means the blood sugar measurement is taken when the person has not eaten for at least eight hours;
  • the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) means that the person fasts for at least eight hours, is then given a 75 g glucose load, and the blood sugars are measured at one- and/or two-hour intervals after the load.

Regular diabetic testing is essential for proper management of diabetes. Depending on the severity of the diabetes, a diabetic may be instructed to test their blood sugar levels as often as every two hours. Most of the medical complications associated with diabetes are caused by the long-term effects of high blood glucose, and low blood glucose must me controlled as well. Diabetic testing equipment is available from most medical supply stores and pharmacies.

There are many options available in diabetic testing equipment. The oldest technique still in use involves blood glucose testing strips that are compared against a color chart like ph testing paper. There are also many glucose monitors available that will electronically read glucose levels off their own type of testing strips. All of these diabetic testing techniques require collecting blood for the test, most often by pricking the fingertip with a special lancet, and squeezing a drop of blood out of the finger. The finger is then pressed against the diabetic testing strip, allowing measurement of blood glucose either with an electronic blood glucose meter or testing strip color chart.

Many electronic diabetic testing glucose monitors are available with speech adapters, allowing diabetics with vision problems to hear their blood glucose test results. Another (recently FDA approved) glucose monitor reads blood glucose levels through the skin every 20 minutes, and only needs to be calibrated twice a day with a finger prick blood sample. For diabetics who are unable to obtain a large enough blood sample with a regular finger lancet, special lancets with integrated pump devices can be used to collect blood samples from other locations.
There is a lot of current research into 'non-invasive' diabetic testing equipment, but no home blood glucose testing techniques available today have entirely eliminated the need for a lancet. Until then, talk to your doctor about your best options for diabetic testing equipment, and find the testing technique that will make it easiest for you to control your blood glucose levels.

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