In 2015, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that approximately one in 10 Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. This comes out to be roughly 30.3 million Americans; however, of those Americans, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) found that 7.2 million of them were unaware that they even had diabetes. As diabetes is rather prevalent in America, it is highly recommended that people (especially those who have a family history of diabetes) undergo routine physicals, as doctors will often do blood work as a means to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a patient’s overall health. Even if you do not have a family history of diabetes, you still need to manage your blood glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes affects about 5% of people with diabetes, and it is often diagnosed in childhood. For the other 95% of people, those with type 2 diabetes, the risk of developing the condition increases with age. With this in mind, take the time to figure out if you are one of the 7.2 million Americans who are unaware that they may be affected by diabetes.
Why is blood testing important?
If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, you have likely been told to test your blood sugar on a daily basis. People with type 1 diabetes must check their blood sugar before every meal, after exercise, and possibly at other times if their doctor has instructed them to do so. This means that people with type 1 diabetes test their blood several times a day (according to the Mayo Clinic, up to 10 times a day). For those who have type 2 diabetes, they must still check their blood glucose levels a few times throughout the day. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is incredibly important for you to test your blood glucose level at a rather high frequency. Measuring your blood glucose level lets you adapt your diet and exercise to what is necessary, monitor the effects of diabetes medication on your blood sugar levels, and understand how factors such as stress or illness may affect your blood sugar levels. Overall, this will allow you to judge how well you are reaching your personal treatment goals.
Some glucose meters will come with a set of required supplies that will need to be replaced over time. If you are looking to buy a glucose meter, here is a shopping list of what you need to buy as a complement to a glucose meter:
- Lancing Device – For the glucose meter to do a reading of your blood sample, you need to first draw blood. The lancing device is the device that pricks the tip of your finger to draw a small amount of blood.
- Lancets – The lancing device uses lancets to prick your finger. Many experts recommend that you change your lance after each use; however, a survey done by One Drop found that only 39% of their users change their lancets on a daily basis.
- Test Strips – After the blood is drawn, the blood must be placed in a test strip so that the glucose meter can read it. You must get a new test strip after each use, as using the same test strip a second time will likely cause inaccurate readings.
- Alcohol Swabs – To keep your entire setup as sterile as possible and avoid infection, use alcohol swabs to clean the wound after each prick.
- Glucose Control Solution – To ensure the accuracy of your glucose meter, it is highly recommended to use a diabetic control solution to check test strips. Applying a drop of control solution will allow you to see if your test strips are still usable. The glucose control solution has a set value already, so after applying it on a test strip, you can test it on a glucose meter to see if the machine will provide an accurate reading within the accepted range. If the machine has an inaccurate reading, you can use the control solution to calibrate your glucose meter readings, similar to zeroing out the weight on a scale.