Glucose levels are important but tricky to monitor. Failure to keep blood sugar levels as normal as possible can cause frequent urination and dehydration, heart diseases, damaged eyesight, and foot ulcer among others. On the other hand, accidentally bringing glucose levels below normal may cause dizziness and fainting (a real danger for those who take fast-acting insulin shots).
Knowing how to read your glucose levels is just the start to maintaining your health, you also need to choose the right device to partner with you in this task.
There are three main types of devices used for checking one’s blood sugar level: meters, insulin pumps, and continuous glucose monitors. Each of these caters to different kinds of patients.
The choice of what device to acquire requires a lot of thought. While cost is often the foremost concern, it is in no way the deciding factor. The need (or desire) to keep glucose levels as normal as possible just as important, and for many diabetics, the ability to live as normally as possible plays a larger role in the decision-making process.
Meters are usually cheap devices (they cost about fifty dollars) that measure the glucose level of blood on small test strips. But the cost of these strips for long-term daily use accumulate and amount to more than the cost of the meter itself. For many of these meters, data storage is also available, giving you and your health provider the capability to review past readings. The ability to mark and flag readings can also help you track and analyse trends in your sugar levels—this feature is especially important for women during their menstruation period.
Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs)
Continuous glucose monitors are devices that are inserted under the skin (usually the abdomen). As their name implies, they continuously monitor one’s blood sugar. CGMs are especially helpful for those who take rapid-acting insulin because they help prevent an overdose that would cause hypoglycemia. They also allow you to view your sugar levels in a graph, allowing you to gain a clearer picture of when and why your blood sugar spikes. CGMs need recalibration once every twelve hours.
CGMs are significantly more expensive than meters. They cost about a thousand to two thousand dollars and that is apart from the for the batteries which about half a thousand dollars and need to be changed every year or so depending on the model.
Insulin pumps are similar to CGMs in that they continuously record your glucose levels, but they differ in that they also pump insulin into your body, automatically maintaining a safe glucose level for you. However, they are extremely expensive, with the device itself amounting to thousands of dollars, and with the monthly supplies that you would have to purchase to use the device, you would spend nearly ten thousand dollars in the first year!
Insulin pumps are more common among those with Type 1 Diabetes, but they are increasingly popular among people with Type 2 Diabetes because they allow one to live normally, without checking and taking medication for diabetes.
Whatever device you choose, remember that these devices alone will not keep diabetes-related complications away. Adjusting your diet and your lifestyle while monitoring your blood sugar will go a long way to keeping the lifestyle you want—as long as it’s healthy.