A diabetes diagnosis does not always mean insulin injections, but it usually does still mean frequent pricks to test your blood sugar. If the number is too high, you might need to take a pill or give yourself an injection. If it is too low, you might need to eat something. Monitoring your blood sugar is a must, but drawing blood for each test could be a thing of the past.
Testing blood sugar today
The most common way to test your blood sugar today involves lancing the side of your finger to get a drop of blood. This might not be a major inconvenience if you only need to do it once in a while, but when controlling your diabetes, you could need to test more than three times a day for weeks. That's a lot of pinpricks. Plus, this type of testing only shows what your blood sugar was at that exact moment.
Introduction to continuous testing
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) allows you to get a better picture of your overall blood sugar. It monitors your blood sugar continuously throughout the day, alerting you whenever your sugar is too high or too low. The first CGM devices hit the U.S. market in 2006, but there are several versions available today. Most CGM devices still need a drop of blood every 12 hours for calibration. This helps reduce the number of fingersticks you use but does not eliminate them. This type of monitoring is best used with adult patients who will keep the sensor on. Younger children with diabetes may complain or take the sensor off throughout the day.
Technologies to watch for
GlucoTrack allows you to avoid using blood to get a reading. Newly approved for sale in Europe, this ear clip works by using ultrasound, electromagnetic and thermal readings to give you an accurate number. Over the long term, it may even be less expensive than traditional monitoring systems. U.S. clinical trials are beginning in early 2016 to prepare for FDA approval. Provided it performs well in the clinical trials, it could hit the market as early as a year after the study wraps up.
Say goodbye to blood when testing blood sugar
Research into noninvasive glucose monitoring is continuing through several companies, all with a different take on monitoring. To make the switch when one of these noninvasive options becomes available, discuss the different options with your doctor. If you have trouble sticking to a testing regimen, a noninvasive option might help. Switching to noninvasive monitoring might only take a willingness to use traditional test strips periodically to ensure accuracy. Discuss the benefits with your doctor, including the ability to more closely monitor changes in your blood sugar and respond instantly to hyper and hypoglycemic events.