Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

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    Several features can make meters easier to use. Some models require a smaller-sized drop of blood. Ask how much blood is required for each model you might be considering. With some models, too little blood may give a faulty reading and you may need to repeat the test. This can be inconvenient at best but could be more of a problem for those with poor circulation in their hands or who must check blood glucose in cold environments. Ask your diabetes educator to show you how different meters work and to help you pick out one that is best for you.
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    If you are using a blood glucose meter for the first time, consider one that offers a video that teaches you how to do the reading. A picture or visual image can make a seemingly complicated procedure crystal clear. Also make sure that the company has a 24-hour toll-free number to call, should you have questions about the meter. Sometimes a quick phone call may clear up a simple problem. Also check that your health care team is familiar with the model you purchase and that supplies are easily available in your area or by mail order.
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    Whether you have severe visual impairment or just have a hard time focusing on small print, you may want to bear this aspect in mind when choosing a blood glucose meter. There are products for visually impaired or disabled users. For example, meters are available with voice guides. Otherwise, look for a meter with a large digital display if you have difficulty reading the numbers. If you have any degree of color-blindness, test-drive a few different models. Make sure that you have no trouble reading the digital display. If you have even some vision loss, perhaps a close companion or family member can help. Make sure that he or she is trained in the use of your meter and the other components of your diabetes toolbox.
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    Some models may require more hands-on time than others. For example, stay away from devices that require too much time if you’re always in a hurry. Some meters can measure blood glucose just seconds after a drop of blood lands on the strip. These devices can be very useful when you test often or in work and social situations, where a few seconds here and there really make a difference. If you are always on the move, you may want to consider a meter and insulin pen combination.
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    Alternative blood glucose monitoring, such as the upper arm, thigh, calf, and palm, is available with some blood glucose meters. Make sure to check your meter for the availability of this feature before using alternate sites. Alternate sites will give you more options, but these sites may not be as consistently accurate as your fingertips. For example, readings from alternate sites may vary after eating, taking insulin, or during low blood glucose periods. 

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    Some glucose meters are so small that they fit on a vial of strips, while others are larger, so people with big hands can handle them easily. Small meters are easy to slip into your pocket or purse. However, if you have trouble with small hand and finger movements, you may want to consider a larger meter. Larger meters may be heavier and clumsier to carry around. Some meters have rubber grips that make them easy to hold.

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    You may be surprised when you go to buy replacement strips for your blood glucose meter. The meter that seemed like a bargain at the time of purchase may turn into a major expense when it comes time to pay for strips, especially if you don’t get reimbursed for them by your health care insurance. In the long run, the strips will cost you more than the meter itself. Most meters will only use one kind of strip. 

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    AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered
    You should check your insurance plan before buying a blood glucose meter to make sure it's covered. Some insurance companies only cover certain meters, so you may not get reimbursed if you buy a different one. Call your insurance company first and ask about the types of meters that they will cover. Once you know what's covered, shop around for the best meter that's covered, at the best price.
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    To choose the right blood glucose meter, you may want to consider several aspects: insurance coverage, your budget, ease of use, test site, your schedule, your vision, your support system, user-friendliness, accuracy, meter size, meter memory, data management systems, language, battery and machine replacement, blood contamination, and convenience.
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    There are several blood glucose meters that check more than blood glucose. One meter measures blood glucose and ketones. Another measures blood glucose, ketones, and lipids (including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and.triglycerides).