Diabetes Home Testing
Diabetes is a quite common disease in general population with as much as 422 million people registered worldwide in 2014 (8). Although life changing, diabetes is manageable, and people can live a long and fulfilled life with it. One of the keys to keeping disease in check is to regularly test your blood sugar level. This text is meant to shed some light behind many simple procedures which can help you track your health all alone.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease. It is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) level among other things. This disease occurs when a gland in body called pancreas can’t produce enough of a protein called insulin or the body cannot use this insulin effectively. This causes the blood sugar levels to rise and changes the metabolic balance of the body. Diabetes is often silent in means that it takes long time to develop and discover. And in this lies the real danger. The changes this makes to the body during the development period of diabetes will do serious damage to you. With that in mind, it is important to diagnose it early and check for it regularly if you have any of the risk factors associated with it. There are today two main types of diabetes referred to as type 1 and type 2 (6).
Signs and symptoms of diabetes
Diabetes can show a variety of different signs and symptoms, but one that are really characteristic are the 3 ‘P’s:
- Polydipsia (thirst that is unquenchable/unsatisfied)
- Polyuria (frequent urination)
- Polyphagia (constant hunger)
Although these three ‘P’s are common the main characteristic of type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed when ketoacidosis develops – a severe complications of disease with loss of consciousness, stomach pain, laboured and hard breathing etc. Here beneath follows some of the most frequent and characteristic symptoms for both diabetes types.
|Table 1. Signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes (9).|
|Signs and symptoms||Type 1||Type 2|
|Unusual weight loss||+||+|
|Blurring of vision||+||+|
|Fruity, sweet, rotten fruit or acetone odour or breath smell||+|
|Heavy and laboured breathing||+|
|Cuts/bruises that heal slowly||+||+|
|Sudden vision changes||+||+|
|Repeated and constant genital, urinary or gum infections||+|
Diabetes complications (7)
Diabetes is a silent disease which can hide considerable damage to your body for a long time before showing any signs. So when discovered, it is not uncommon to find or over time develop damage to certain organs like:
- Eyes: changes to vision even blindness
- Blood vessels: narrowing and occlusion
- Nerves: abnormal or loss of sensation
- Guts: slows bowel movement, increasing the risk of ileus
Because it is a systemic and a chronic disease, diabetes can be an underlying cause of many complications. Some of most common are:
- Cerebral stroke
- Hearth attack
- Abnormal blood lipids metabolism
- High blood pressure
- Ileus (less or total inability for the normal food stuffs ability to move forward in the gut and intestines)
- Diabetic foot (foot gangrene) – foot infections, ulcers and dying tissue on the foot
- Kidney disease and failure
- Skin conditions
- Nerve damage
- Ketoacidosis – high level of ketones in the blood due to deamination of amino acids and breakdown of fatty acids.
Here it easy to understand why early detection is associated with better disease control and less chance of developing serious life threatening complications. Doing so may in turn prolongs life and increases the quality of life with the disease (6).
High blood sugar and ketones:
When you miss your insulin dose or have a lower insulin production, less insulin can signal for the sugar from the food you have eaten to be absorbed by your muscle, fat or liver tissue. Since the sugar isn’t taken up by these tissues this causes your blood sugar rise. Since your muscles and brain still need energy and no sugar is taken up the body starts to believe it is starving. A second energy system where breakdown of fatty acids, and to some extent proteins in your muscles, are started and a new energy mediator, ketones, are created. Therefore, a good indicator for diabetes symptoms is a higher level of ketones in your blood. The ketones will give your body and brain the energy it needs but not to the same extent as glucose which the symptom of irritation is a good indicator of. Due to the nature of the ketones they will also make your blood acidic. Blood acidity is not good for your health and it causes hard and laboured breathing.
As the ketones gives you’re the energy you need the high blood glucose remains and is a serious concern. The sugar has detrimental effects to the blood vessels since it makes them hard and inflexible. The smaller vessels will even be damaged too much and destroyed which in turn causes less blood to reach the outer skin, your organs and the neurons in your brain. The effect from a high blood sugar is thereby less sensitivity to your skin, giving rise to more frequent damage and infections, less blood flow in your organs, which causes tissue damage, and more damage to your brain, which causes development of dementia and Alzheimer earlier. All of this is common in type 1 diabetes and if these signs apply to you it is important that you test yourself for diabetes and contact your healthcare provider (2).
Symptoms of low blood sugar:
As no blood sugar can be absorbed when no insulin is released or the effect of insulin on uptake is impaired, the same symptoms as those of low blood sugar appear. Blood glucose level below 70 mg/dl (US) or 3,9 mmol/l (EU) endangers your life and health. At and beneath this level you need to receive sugar immediately. The cause of low blood sugar can be when you miss a meal or receive medicine without eating (1). The side-effects and what you cause you to feel:
- If sever enough it will cause unconsciousness and seizures
Who should go for a Home Diabetes Health Test?
Reasons why you should go for Home Diabetes Health Test?
I. Early stage detection
Early detection of your diabetic stats saves you trouble. Monitoring your diabetic status saves you a lot of complications of diabetes. You can adjust your diet accordingly but diabetes home test can be lifesaving as well. You can detect the life threatening low blood sugar and reduce risk of many severe future diabetic consequences.
II. Control your treatment plan
You should test your blood sugar at least three times a day if diagnosed with diabetes type 1. The morning fasting reading gives you information about your blood sugar before having a meal. For example, low blood sugar before meals (fasting) means you need to eat more carbohydrates. On the other hand, high blood sugar before a meal means you need to review your treatment plan.
You need to know how your body react to your food and therefore also test after meals. Doctors usually recommend testing the glucose level before and after 2 hours from a meal (postprandial testing). High blood sugar after meals means your body system can’t manage the sugar from the meal.
The normal sugar levels
Morning testing (before meals):
- Normal persons: 70-99 mg/dl (milligrams per decilitre) US/ 4,0-5,9 mmol/l EU.
- Diabetic persons (Target): 80-130 mg/dl US/ 4-7 mmol/l EU.
2 hours after meals (postprandial):
- Normal persons: below 140 mg/dl US/ 7,8mmol/l EU.
- Diabetic persons (Target): below 180 mg/dl US / under 8,5mmol/l EU.
Glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c):
- Normal persons: 5.6% or lower.
- Diabetic persons (Target): 7.0% or lower.
These levels are recommended by health professionals, but in uncontrolled diabetes these levels can be sometimes dramatically higher.
III. Follow your progress
Glycated haemoglobin is very useful in detecting the progress of your diabetic state during the past 120 days. But what is glycated hemoglobulin?
Naturally, the haemoglobin in the red blood cells contains only a minimal amount of glycated haemoglobin. When the blood sugar rises in your blood, it enters the red cell easily. As this happens the blood sugar binds with the haemoglobin forming the glycated (glycosylated) haemoglobin. That is to say, there is correlation between blood sugar level and glycated haemoglobin and this is beneficial in long-term disease management. To measure your glycated hemoglobulin is a therefore a good way that you can monitor your progress more efficiently when changing therapy or diet. The level of the glycated haemoglobin reflects the blood glucose over the entire 120-day lifespan of the red cell (5).
Do I need to check if I have diabetes?
Risk groups: There are certain groups of people who are recommended to check their blood sugar on regular basis. The risk groups (4) are as follows:
- People older than 45 years of age.
- People with family members diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
- People who are obese or overweight.
- Physically inactive people.
- Those who have high blood pressure (hypertensive).
- Women who have had high blood sugar level during a previous pregnancy
- Women who delivered a baby weighing more than 4 kg.
- Patients taking therapy for mental illnesses (antipsychotic therapy & antidepressants)
- People on long term corticosteroid (cortisone) therapy
- People who suffered a heart attack or a stroke
Testing is very easy and meant to be convenient for everyone. Older people and mentally ill patients can get help from close relatives or a caregiver.
Diabetics at workplace:
Out of many concerns and fears people often hide their health status from bosses and colleagues. This is harmful not only for the affected, but for the whole collective. In case of diabetes person can miss a dose or a meal and without anyone knowing you can get yourself in danger.
Checking levels of glucose in workplace and letting your colleagues know is the first step to actively combating the disease. It will create a more relaxed working atmosphere and increase overall efficiency and productivity (3).
Easy to use diabetes home test kits and apparatus you can use at home
Diabetic Home Test Kits: Which one is for you?
Regular monitoring of your blood sugar is the key to healthy life. The tests are designed so to help you track your blood sugar to not spike it too high or drop down to a critical level. These diabetes home tests can help you a lot. Beneath follows information of each type of diabetes home health test category.
Urine strips: testing sugar in urine
Urine test strips are easy to use with no need to prick your skin. These are also less costly than other tests. The kit normally contains 1-3 coated strips. All you need is a fresh urine sample. Dip the strip into the urine sample, remove it and wait for circa one minute. The change in colour indicates the presence of sugar in your urine. It will show leakage of sugar meaning that your blood sugar is raised because urine doesn’t normally contain it. People who are prediabetics can also use the test as well. After taken this type of test it is good for follow up and monitors your sugar level in other ways. There is also urine tests that also can help you discover the presence of ketones in your urine. Positive test (change of colour) is a sign that you are in need of special medical care.
Measuring HbA1c is useful way to monitor the progress of your diabetes over the past 3 months. For the test you need to take a blood sample from the tip of the finger. The blood sample is inserted into a collector and then into a “shaker” the shaker is pressed against and inserted cartridge to deliver the blood sample to the device. After circa 5 minutes the results will be displayed. Test is useful for a long-term status assessment of already diagnosed diabetes. For this type of tests you can also send a away blood sample for analysis. This will provide you with a more in dept analysis if you have collected samples over a period of time.
Ordinary blood test
The ordinary blood test uses special strips to take a blood drop. The strips contain microfilaments that deliver the blood with the strip in to a blood glucose reader. The results displays your blood glucose level and there is all type of options where you can store values for later consideration and comparison. It is recommended to measure the blood sugar in the early morning before a meal. This will give you your baseline and direct after a meal plus two hours later the test can show you how your body react to your diet or medicine regime.
Diabetic blood sugar meters kits – choose among variable tech.
There are different technologies that you can use to take a blood sample:
- Pricking the finger for blood
- Inserting a tiny tube under the skin for continuous measuring.
What the different devices and technologies would tell you?
- Blood glucose (sugar) level.
- Blood acetone and acetoacetate (ketones).
- Glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c).
Providing the results:
- Screen display: most devices.
- Audio: for poor eyesight diabetics.
- Bluetooth: with a smartphone app, the readings are sync to your phone.
The Top 5 Diabetic Home Test Kits You Should Know.
What you need to know
The global market for blood glucose monitoring devices is ever growing. The USA manufacturers lead the industry. However, the Chinese and Indian manufacturers provide less costly albeit accurate and competitive devices as well.
Specify your needs:
Before going to the market specify what you need to check. If you are type 1 diabetic, ketone measuring devices would be a plus for you. Those with type 2 diabetes need to add HbA1c to the glucose measurements. It is wise to choose a device with multiple strips so that you can take multiple daily tests. Urine tests is less costly but just indicative as well.
Talking devices are available for poor sighted patients. Check for your language. Some devices provide apps with many functions and tools. Computer-oriented people may find tech helpful.
Consult your doctor:
Most of the devices store the results for further use. Consult your doctor about the results and figures. Your healthcare giver will change your treatment regimen for your good.
Home diabetes test kits that can help you
- Cryer, P., Axelrod, L., Grossman, A., Heller, S., Montori, V., Seaquist, E., & Service, F. (2009). Evaluation and Management of Adult Hypoglycemic Disorders: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. The Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 94(3), 709-728. http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2008-1410
- Dhatariya, K., & Vellanki, P. (2017). Treatment of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)/Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar State (HHS): Novel Advances in the Management of Hyperglycemic Crises (UK Versus USA). Current Diabetes Reports, 17(5). http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11892-017-0857-4
- Diabetes in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers & Employees. (2018). Canadian Diabetes Association. Retrieved 17 April 2018, from http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/know-your-rights/employment-discrimination-your-rights/diabetes-in-the-workplace-a-guide-for-employers
- Handelsman, Y., Bloomgarden, Z., Grunberger, G., Umpierrez, G., Zimmerman, R., & Bailey, T. et al. (2015). American association of clinical endocrinologists and american college of endocrinology – clinical practice guidelines for developing a diabetes mellitus comprehensive care plan – 2015 —executive summary. Endocrine Practice, 21(4), 413-437. http://dx.doi.org/10.4158/ep15672.gl
- Nathan, D., Turgeon, H., & Regan, S. (2007). Relationship between glycated haemoglobin levels and mean glucose levels over time. Diabetologia, 50(11), 2239-2244. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00125-007-0803-0
- Screening for Diabetes. (2002). Diabetes Care, 25(Supplement 1), S21-S24. http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/diacare.25.2007.s21
- Summary of Revisions: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2018. (2017). Diabetes Care, 41(Supplement 1), S4-S6. http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/dc18-srev01
- Diabetes fact sheet, 17.11.2017. , WHO, http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
- Diabetes: A national plan for action. The importance of early diabetes detection, 12.01.2004, https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/diabetes-national-plan-action/importance-early-diabetes-detection