How is Blood Glucose Monitored?

Individuals with diabetes are asked to monitor their blood glucose levels daily to determine the amount of glucose in their blood. Your diabetes health care team will work with you to determine the best times during the day to test your blood glucose and to find the monitoring device that best suits your needs. There are many accurate blood glucose meters available. They are simple to operate. The finger is pricked with a lancet and a drop of blood is applied to a treated strip. A glucose meter then reads the strip and displays the value. Monitoring blood glucose and making appropriate changes offers a more independent, self-sufficient approach to diabetes management. Research indicates that complications associated with diabetes may be reduced if blood glucose levels are kept near normal. Blood glucose monitoring can help you to:

  • Make changes in your daily diet, medications or activity
  • Identify low blood glucose levels
  • Control blood glucose during illness

Several new products on the market or in clinical trials are intended to make monitoring of blood glucose levels easier and less painful than the traditional finger prick method with a steel lancet. One is a laser lancing device, called Lasette, which uses laser energy to penetrate the skin. The device has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is available by prescription from your doctor. The device is costly, however, and still causes pain for many patients. For these reasons, Virginia Mason has not yet recommended its use.

A new implantable sensor has also been approved by the FDA that allows doctors to continuously monitor a patient’s blood sugar levels. The device can help doctors make adjustments in how a patient’s diabetes is managed. The sensor is implanted under the skin on the abdomen and records glucose levels every five minutes, for three days. The data are then downloaded to a computer in the doctor’s office. It does not make glucose readings available to the patient, however, so patients must still use the finger prick method to obtain their readings. The device holds promise for the type of product that may be available soon for patient use.

Your diabetes health-care team can provide more information about these products. To make the most of glucose monitoring, however, Virginia Mason strongly recommends that you receive instruction by a qualified diabetes educator. For more information, call the Virginia Mason Section of Endocrinology and Diabetes at (206) 223-6627.