What tools are used for diabetes?
These six devices can help you effectively manage your diabetes.

With improvements in medical science and technology, various methods have evolved to manage your blood sugar levels more effectively, accurately, and conveniently.

Six supplies and devices that can be used to measure blood sugar levels and keep diabetes in check include the following.

6 tools used for diabetes

  1. Glucometer or glucose monitor, lancets, and test strips:
    • This device helps measure the blood sugar level using just a drop of blood in the comfort of your home.
    • It is a very useful and portable device that can keep you informed about the effect of diet, exercise, stress, sickness, and medications on blood sugar levels.
    • It is easy to perform and simple to understand and provides quick and appropriate results.
    • A lancet is used to prick the skin and draw a small sample of blood that is dropped onto the edge of a disposable diabetic test strip.
    • This strip is inserted into the monitor, which displays your blood sugar levels in a fraction of seconds.
  2. Insulin and syringes:
    • Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps metabolize sugar (glucose) in the foods we eat.
    • Depending on your doctor’s prescription, you may need to inject insulin one to four times a day.
    • Based on their period of action, insulin is divided into several types such as:
      • Rapid-acting
      • Regular or short-acting
      • Intermediate-acting
      • Long-acting
  3. Insulin pump or pens:
    • Insulin pens have prefilled or an insertable cartridge that is easy to use and imitates the way insulin is used in the body naturally.
    • An insulin pump is small and attachable to the waistband device, connected to a thin tube known as a catheter, and inserted under the skin with a needle.
    • This catheter delivers insulin from the pump in small and large doses that are pre-programmed and vary throughout the day and night.
  4. Ketone test strips:
    • In the absence of insulin, the body is unable to use sugar or glucose for energy, in response to which it breaks down fats, leading to the production of ketones.
    • This accumulation of ketones in the body is a sign of uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
    • You may be recommended to use ketone strips when you have symptoms of high ketone levels, such as feeling sick or tired all the time, excessive thirst or having a dry mouth, confusion, and difficulty breathing.
    • These ketone strips are dipped into a clean container after peeing in them. Comparing the color on the strip to the kit's color chart will tell whether the ketone levels are low, moderate, or high.
  5. Glucose tablets:
    • Managing blood sugar levels is essential to avoid dangerous complications of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) such as seizures and myocardial infarctions.
    • Glucose tablets are fast-acting sugar pills to be taken when you have symptoms of hypoglycemia or when the blood sugar is low (below 70 mg/dL).
    • If a person loses consciousness with dangerously low blood sugar levels, the doctor may recommend a shot of glucagon, a hormone that makes the liver release stored glucose into the bloodstream.
  6. Diabetes medical alert bracelet:
    • This is used in emergency medical situations, wherein it can mention things such as information about insulin, any type of allergies, and emergency contact number.

Who should be tested for diabetes?

Regular testing allows healthcare professionals to diagnose prediabetes, diabetes, and gestational diabetes quicker and manage these conditions to prevent potential complications.

Anyone who may present with symptoms of diabetes should be tested including people who may have high-risk factors for the condition, such as:

  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Hormonal diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome (overproduction of cortisol), acromegaly (overproduction of growth hormone), and hyperthyroidism (hyperactive thyroid gland)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Certain medications such as diuretics, antiseizure drugs, and psychiatric drugs

2 types of diabetes

  1. Type I diabetes:
    • It most commonly occurs in children and young adults.
    • It occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.
    • Researchers speculate that type I diabetes is caused by genetic and environmental factors, such as viruses, that might trigger the disease.
  2. Type II diabetes:
    • It most commonly occurs in people older than 40 years and those who are overweight, obese, and physically inactive.
    • It is caused by several factors, including genetic and lifestyle factors.
    • Type II diabetes begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use insulin appropriately. As a result, the body needs more insulin to help glucose enter cells.
    • Initially, the pancreas produces more insulin to keep up with the added demand. Over time, the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin, leading to an increase in blood glucose levels.

SLIDESHOW

Diabetes: What Raises and Lowers Your Blood Sugar Level? See Slideshow

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of type I diabetes can initiate suddenly within weeks, whereas symptoms of type II diabetes often develop slowly over several years and include:

  • Polydipsia (increased thirst)
  • Polyuria (increased frequency of urination)
  • Polyphagia (increased hunger)
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Unexplained weight loss

What tests are used to diagnose diabetes?

For diabetes, healthcare professionals most often use the following tests:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test: Blood glucose levels are checked in the morning after fasting for at least eight hours.
  • Postprandial blood glucose test: Blood glucose levels are checked after two hours of having a meal.
  • Random plasma glucose test: Blood sugar levels are checked at any time during the day, without the compulsion of fasting.
  • HbA1C test: Provides the average levels of blood glucose over the past three months.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: This test measures blood glucose after fasting for at least eight hours. You need to drink the liquid-containing glucose, post which a blood sample is drawn every hour for two to three hours.
Table 1. Normal ranges for blood glucose levels using different tests
Condition HbA1C (percentage) FPG test (mg/dL) Post prandial plasma glucose (mg/dL)
Normal Less than 5.7 Less than 99 Less than 139
Prediabetes 5.7 to 6.4 100 to 125 140 to 199
Diabetes More than or equal to 6.5 More than 126 200 or above

8 complications of diabetes

Eight complications of diabetes include:

  1. Heart diseases
  2. Stroke
  3. Kidney diseases
  4. Eye problems
  5. Dental issues
  6. Nerve damage
  7. Foot problems
  8. Frequent infections

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Medically Reviewed on 4/26/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Image

Michael Dansinger What Diabetes Supplies and Devices Do I Need WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/what-diabetes-supplies-will-i-need

Better blood glucose meters and more American Diabetes Association: https://www.diabetes.org/tools-support/devices-technology

What is Diabetes? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes