learn about glucose meters and diabetic supplies
Below find explanations and descriptions of the most common supplies used in managing diabetes.
Optimal management of diabetes involves patients measuring and recording their own blood glucose levels. Blood sugar level is measured by means of a glucose meter using blood obtained through a fingerstick.
The results on a blood glucose meter will display in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter in the USA) or mmol/L (millimoles per litre in Canada and Europe) of blood:
- The average individual should have a glucose level of around 80 to 125 mg/dL (4.5 to 7.0 mmol/L)
- On average, the acceptable level for a diabetic patient before a meal is 80 to 125 mg/dL (<6.1 mmol/L x)
- On average, the acceptable level for a diabetic patient two hours after the start of a meal is <140 mg/dL (<7.8 mmol/L)
Diabetic test strips are used with glucose testing meters for diabetic testing. Test strips are small, thin, one-time use pieces of plastic that can be placed into your glucose testing monitor to verify your blood sugar. Blood can be either dropped or drawn into a test strip, depending on the type.
A lancing device is used for pricking the skin with a quick-action fine needle, or lancet, to obtain a sample of blood for testing. Lancing devices are most commonly used by diabetics during blood glucose monitoring.
Diabetic lancets are used to puncture the finger to extract blood for testing. Individuals can use the lancets alone or use a lancing device (along with the lancet) to get a blood sample.
The A1C or Glycohemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1C test reflects your average blood glucose control for the two- to three-month period before the test. This test can be done on a sample of blood drawn from your arm or obtained through a fingerstick.
An insulin pump is a medical device used for administering insulin. This type of treatment is also known as continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion therapy.
Insulin pumps include:
- The pump itself (including controls, processing module, and batteries)
- A disposable reservoir for insulin (inside the pump)
- A disposable infusion set, including a cannula for subcutaneous insertion (under the skin)
- A tubing system to interface the insulin reservoir to the cannula
An insulin pump is an alternative to multiple daily injections of insulin by insulin syringe or an insulin pen and allows for intensive insulin therapy when used in conjunction with blood glucose monitoring and carb counting.
Needles and syringes are used for daily injections of insulin. Syringes are small and the needles have fine points and special coatings that work to make injecting as easy and painless as possible. When insulin injections are done properly, most people discover they are relatively painless.
Check with your doctor or diabetes educator and test several brands before you buy. Your equipment should suit your needs.
Questions to ask:
- Does the syringe dose match your insulin strength?
If you take U-100 insulin, use U-100 syringes. Note: All insulin syringes in the United States take U-100 insulin.
- Does your syringe match your insulin dosage?
If you take 30 units or less of insulin, you may use the 3/10-cc syringe. The 5/10-cc syringe may be used by those taking 50 units or less, and the 1-cc syringe is designed for those needing up to 100 units of insulin.
If you are changing the syringe you use, check dosage lines carefully. In some syringes, one line is equal to one unit of insulin, but in others, each line is equal to two units of insulin.
Be familiar with the gauge of your needle and what it means. The higher the gauge number of your needle, the thinner it is.
- Can you easily draw up your dosage in a particular syringe?
If your insulin needs have been increasing, you might want to buy syringes that give you an opportunity to increase your dose if need be. For example, if you take 29 units, consider buying a 50-unit syringe. Using a syringe that more closely matches your dose may help you more accurately draw up your insulin.
- Does the syringe barrel have the kind of markings you can read easily? or are they too close together?
Not all syringe barrels are created equal check out several different brands to find the one with markings that you can easily read.
- Does having a plunger that's a different color make it easier for you?
Many people with imperfect eyesight find that using syringes with a plunger colored differently than the barrel makes it easier to determine when the syringe has been filled to the appropriate level.
- Would a shorter needle be a better choice for you?
Some syringes now have shorter needles that many people find to be more comfortable. However, the depth of the injection can change the rate of absorption. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator to assess whether this would be a good alternative to your current syringe.
A continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system is a device that measures glucose levels throughout the day, including while the user is sleeping. These devices can provide up to 288 glucose measurements every 24 hours. A traditional glucose monitoring test (such as testing via fingerstick) is just a snapshot in time.
Continuous glucose monitoring allows you to see what is happening between individual glucose tests, including some levels that may not have been detected.