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Blood Sugar Testing, Insulin, and Diabetes Management

Effective diabetes treatment depends largely on day-to-day diabetes management. Living with diabetes requires that you take a very active role in your own health care. This includes performing daily blood sugar testing, planning your own meals, and for some, administering your own insulin injections.

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Blood sugar testingBlood Sugar Testing and Diabetic Supplies
Blood sugar testing must be performed several times throughout the day, and is an essential part of diabetes management. The patient takes a small blood sample — usually a pinprick from a finger — and drops it on a specially coated strip of paper. The paper changes color, depending on the amount of glucose in the blood. The paper is then compared to a blood glucose chart. For more accurate readings, the drop of blood can be fed through a blood sugar monitor. The result can be read on the monitor's display window. Most stores that stock diabetic supplies have a variety of blood sugar monitors for sale.

Pricking your own finger four or five times a day is no one's idea of fun, and research is attempting to develop less painful ways to accomplish blood sugar testing. New techniques include using ultrasound to measure blood sugar without breaking the skin. Initial clinical trials in this area have generated promising results.

The FDA has recently approved a wristwatch-shaped blood sugar testing device called the Glucowatch ®. It uses electronic stimulation to draw blood sugar through the skin to be tested. The device does not completely eliminate finger-prick testing, however. The device must be recalibrated daily using the results from a standard blood sugar test.

Long-Term Tests and Diabetic Supplies
Understanding how well the diabetic's blood sugar levels are being regulated is vital to proper diabetes treatment. Every three or four months a glycosylated hemoglobin test may be performed. The test indicates how effectively the patient has been managing his or her blood sugar levels over the last three months. By examining the results and the events of the previous few months (stress, diet, and alcohol consumption, for instance) a more customized diabetes management program can be created.

The Diabetic Diet and the Nutritionist
Getting used to following a diabetic diet can be difficult. Since diabetes is a blood sugar disorder, food is an important consideration for keeping your diabetes under control. Take the time to consult with a qualified nutritionist, and let the nutritionist design an appropriate diet. If you don't have access to a nutritionist, your doctor or clinic can supply brochures with dietary guidelines. Read the food labels on products at the grocery store to determine the calorie, fat and carbohydrate contents. Invest in a good diabetes cookbook that helps you monitor food exchanges.

Insulin: Why We Need It for Diabetes Management
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and is necessary for cells to extract energy from blood sugar. Without it, cells are starved for energy, and a body cannot regulate blood sugar levels.

For type 1 insulin-dependent diabetics, injections provide this vital hormone, and are available in many forms. Some brands of insulin are very fast acting, but only stay in the bloodstream for an hour or so. Longer-lasting types of insulin may stay in the bloodstream between ten to twelve hours. Many people use more than one type of insulin, depending on their body's needs.

For type 2 diabetics, insulin injections are often not required. In many cases, diet and exercise alone can be all that is needed to achieve blood sugar control. Some type 2 diabetics may need to take pills to help their body metabolize sugar. In more severe cases of type 2 diabetes, insulin injections may become necessary as the disease progresses.
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