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Let’s Talk About Diabetes Test Kits
It is estimated that diabetes affects 7.8 of Americans. High blood sugar can lead to heart or kidney disease, blindness, and even amputation. For those with diabetes, it is vital to test the blood sugar on a regular basis.
Type 1 diabetics need to monitor their blood sugar so they can take the proper amount of insulin. Type 2 diabetics need to monitor their blood sugar so that they can manage their diet to keep the blood sugar under control.
To monitor blood sugar, a diabetes testing kit is needed.
Often, when you are diagnosed with diabetes, your physician or a diabetic counselor will provide you with a blood testing kit. If not, then you can buy diabetic testing kits online or at a local pharmacy. The blood test kits consist of a blood sugar monitor, lancets, and test strips.
The monitor is the heart of the diabetes test kit. The monitor reads the test strips, and usually within seconds provides a blood sugar reading. Many monitors have a memory to record several blood sugar readings, making it easy to track the blood sugar over the course of several different tests. These days, the monitors are very small, and easy to carry. The portability makes it easy for the diabetic to take the monitor with them so they can test their blood sugar anywhere, for every meal.
How To Test Your Blood Sugar
In order to test the blood, you have to be able to draw the blood. That is done with the lancet, which comes with the test kit. Often the lancet is spring loaded, making it easier to draw the blood. With the spring loaded lancets, the user will “cock” the lancet, compressing the spring. The lancet is then placed against the finger or another test site, and a button releases the lancet, pricking the test site, so that blood can be drawn.
Keep in mind that to prevent infection, you should replace the lancet every so often. You can easily find them online. In most cases, the old lancet can just be removed from the spring loaded activator, and replaced with a new one. Just be careful in disposing of the old lancet, since it is still sharp.
How Do Test Strips Work?
To sample the blood, you need test strips. These strips plug into the monitor, and then draw in a sample of blood. A chemical reaction occurs, which is then read by the monitor, giving the blood sugar reading. The strips are made of plastic, and the end is coated with enzymes, which react with the glucose in the blood. When the strip is placed in the meter, the meter reads the strength of the reaction, telling the user the blood sugar level.
The test strips are particular to the brand of the monitor. When you buy new test strips you need to use the strips designed specifically for your monitor. The test strips do have an expiration date, so for the most accurate reading, they do need to be used before then.
Are Diabetes Test Kits Expensive?
The test strips are the biggest expense in a diabetes testing kit. Once you have the test kit, you can reuse the meter over and over. The lancets and the test strips are both consumable, so you will be buying those every time you run out. The lancets, however, are cheap to replace. The test strips, because of the expense of manufacturing will be the biggest cost for the diabetic.
Older meters needed to be coded in order to read the test strips accurately. Each batch of test strips would come with a code, which would be entered into the meter manually, or come in the form of a chip which could be inserted into the meter. This coding ensured that the meter could properly communicate with the test strips. These days, meters still need to be calibrated for each batch of test strips, but the coding is no longer necessary. When you get your test kit, be sure to check whether or not coding is necessary.
If you want to avoid complications from diabetes, then it is essential to keep track of your blood sugar. Modern test kits are small, and accurate, giving you the ability to know what your blood sugar level is, anywhere and at any time. When you can keep track of your blood sugar, you can adjust your lifestyle to keep yourself healthy.