Diabetes Mellitus Test Strips

Diabetes mellitus, an inadequate insulin response to the sugar in the system, only demonstrates how miraculous the working system is when not compromised. When this system is faulty, however, a person with diabetes must take on the jobs that his or her body won’t do; these include:

  • Determine the amount of sugar in the bloodstream;
  • Release insulin to metabolize that sugar into the cells for energy;
  • Fine-tune the sugar levels within a tight range to maintain alertness and even consciousness without overshooting, which can result in loss of consciousness, or undershooting, which can result in tissue damage.

It’s a lot easier when the sensitive cells in the pancreas do most of the work in the background. Unfortunately, this is not the case with diabetes.

The mechanics of stepping in to do the job the pancreas won’t do

To accomplish a semblance of normality, a diabetic person must determine his or her actual blood sugar based on a “sliding scale” and administer the required amount insulin to institute the correct body chemistry. Simply put, more sugar means more insulin, but it’s not really that straightforward. Thankfully, there are small strips that can determine one’s blood sugar with a machine scan. While there are more actions required in the treatment of diabetes, this action is simple enough that patients with diabetes can remain diligently aware of their blood sugar levels.

Diabetes is serious business

If one is to normally navigate the rhythms and vagaries of daily life while diabetic, one needs to be committed to keeping up with the demands of diabetes. Failure to do so can result in complications like the following:

  • Macrovascular disease, particularly atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries): This condition will compromise blood flow and result in cardiac disease. If there is hypertension, especially as related to obesity or other factors like smoking, the risks are very serious.
  • Microvascular disease, specifically eye, kidney, circulatory, and nerve damage. Retinal damage, kidney failure, and neuropathy resulting in painful nerves (especially in the feet) are all more likely with poorly controlled diabetes. The smaller arteries to the hands and feet are at particular risk, sometimes necessitating amputation if the diabetes is not treated.
  • Fatigue, lethargy, worsening or more frequent infections, and compromised performance.

What all this boils down to is that the monetary and time investment of monitoring one’s blood sugar and keeping it within a tight range pay off.

HbA1c

Unlike the test strips used to monitor blood glucose drop-by-drop during the day, the Hemoglobin A1c blood test gives an appraisal of how things generally are. The target A1c to aim for is less than 6.5–7%. The HbA1c has simplified a lot of the oversight with diabetes, but this is mainly from the perspective of healthcare providers. Monthly HbA1c determinations may provide physicians meaningful portrait of a patient’s general health, but the patient still has to continue with day-to-day glucose management to succeed in the long-term.
Good results over time require good effort during that time. This means that the daily test strip results are more important than ever in understanding a good or a bad HbA1c.

What is considered good diabetic control in terms of day-to-day management?

            The aim is to have sugar readings as close to those seen in non-diabetic persons as possible. This means between 70 and 130mg/dl before meals and less than 180mg/dl two hours after beginning a meal. This is only the ideal, however, and it’s important to remember that it’s the HbA1c results that are the true grade of successful diabetic management. The day-to-day readings, however, are a part of that—eventually.

Test strips 101

Glucose test strips work by using an enzyme that converts the sugar into an electric current, which is then read and assigned a blood sugar level based on a formula. This means that in that tiny piece of plastic is a printed enzyme apparatus of sorts that engages with the electronic scanner. Usually, the test strips and their readers are proprietary, meaning only one type of strip can be read in one type of scanner, although there are some that are more flexible. Because accurate results depend on how the test strips and the monitor talk to each other, each new batch of test strips must be calibrated before use.
The number strips needed depends on a person’s type of diabetes. For example, people with type 1 diabetes should test their blood glucose at least four times a day, while people with type 2 diabetes should test their blood glucose less as determined by one’s track record of control and physician.
The Diabetes Council is a great resource in understanding the rationale, science, and particulars of test strips.

What types of test strips are available?

The types of strips available to a person depends on the manufacturer, country, and/or health plan. Most patient care suppliers have a section called “Diabetic Care.” The following are some types of test strips and monitors to read them:
Test strips

Monitors such as the Freestyle Freedom Lite Blood Glucose Monitor are typical of the small machines used to determine one’s blood glucose levels. Lancets are also important for comfort and compliance.
When it comes to the general health of the diabetic, day-to-day work done faithfully will result in a general wealth of health. Your eyes, kidneys, heart, and feet will thank you!