Fasting from dawn to dusk in the holy month of Ramadan for healthy adult Muslims has been ordained and physically sick Muslims are exempt from it. However many Muslims with mild to moderate Diabetes, Hypertension and other medical conditions do want to fast.
The purpose of this presentation is make some recommendations how one can fast safely in light of research on fasting. Many are concerned they cannot fast when they have diabetes mellitus . Please consult with your doctor.
Some people may need some tests to be done to assess fitness for fasting.
The salient features of fasting are :
It is a voluntary undertaking rather than being ordered by a physician
There is no selective food intake i.e. protein only, juice only, fruit only , water only etc
There is no total calorie malnutrition i.e. it not a semi starvation diet.
An exercise in self discipline i.e. from constant nibbling , drinking, smoking etc
Psychological effect on the body and additional prayer give additional peace.
People who should ideally not fast, but can fast under supervision
Diabetes Mellitus Type 1
Those who get recurrent low sugar levels.
Chronic Renal Failure including Renal Transplant
Severe heart and lung conditions
Physically sick ( Quran 2: 184-185)
Traveler on a journey
Women during menstruation
Pregnant and lactating women
pre pubertal children
Do you know?
Blood glucose and Insulin levels will fall during the fast.
The first few days will take some adjustment. If in doubt( headache, sweating, dizziness) check sugar or blood pressure.
What to do during the fasting:
Beware the sweets and the fried food.
Remember that by eating throughout the night will not help one tide over the next day. Instead indigestion and gas related problems may set in.
Fluid intake must be adequate during the night to make up for the reduced intake during the day
Having too much of sweets or fried food during the Sahoor can lead to dryness of the mouth which can be a cause of concern during the fast.
Points to remember while breaking the fast at Ifthaar:
- Drink enough water, butter milk or juice. A glass of water melon juice, butter milk or tender coconut water will be a good option to break the fast. One need not add glucose. Water melon juice is sweet by itself and usually people add more sugar. Water melon has a higher glycemic index.
- Try to be careful with the fried and sweet food. Take them in moderation.
- Have a good Ifthaar or Isha meal. Have your prayers and then go for a walk to allow digestion.
- Have some fruit at about midnight if need be. Have a good Sahoor of needed.
- Avoid too salty food at Sahoor as that can make the mouth dry forcing more fluid intake.
- Check the sugar level 2 hours after Ifthaar to decide whether any additional dose of medicines is needed.
Exercise and Ramadhaan
One can exercise during the month. Please check the sugar before exercise. One can exercise lightly before Isha or after the heavy meal.
Try to avoid strenuous workouts as the body may be tired due to the lengthy fast.
Those who want to exercise before Iftaar should check their sugar before exercise. If sugar is below 100mg(5.5 mmol/L) avoid exercising.
Those with type 1 diabetes are exempt from fasting as their sugar levels are dependant on insulin. However, there are some who do fasting alternate days only. This is depending on your health status.
Some more tips
Check sugar levels just before Ifthaar and before the Sahoor meal.
One can check the sugar levels at 7 am before going to work. If the sugar levels are either too low or too high, it is wise to seek medical advice immediately. You may be advised to forego the fast that day.
Time your medicines between Iftaar and 1am.
If on long acting insulin such as Glargine or detemir, it is advised to take 20% less either at Ifthaar or Sahoor time
Normally the doses of most of the medicines could be reduced during the month.
The medicines have to be tailored in such a way that there is no hypoglycemia
Be careful of sulphonyl ureas and rapid acting insulin
Among the sulphonyl ureas, gliclazide is safe in that the chances of hypoglycemia is lesser and the weight gain is minimal.
Intermediate acting insulin are avoided during the month due to the 10-12 hour action which can go into the period of fasting
The essence of Ramadhaan is the same all over the world, but the flavors may differ.
Have a blessed Ramadhaan
Though close to 85% use the internet even if from the low socioeconomic population, digital technology and web based application usage has been very slow to catch on when compared to the boom experienced in the retail shopping and banking sectors worldwide. The vast majority of online communities, mobile applications ( Apps, as they are commonly known) and web sites have been very sluggish in integrating with the mainstream health care stream.
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and many others I am unsure of, have helped transform social life in a big way to a point where people avoid face to face contact. But these sites have also helped create a platform to support sharing of knowledge, communication and understanding, lever positive behavioral changes and also help in using the audiovisual mode of communication which lingers longer in memory.
More frequent consultations will be costly and not affordable to many even this day. This way of e- health will help tide over this if used well. This will help in increasing treatment adherence, health related behaviors as well as give a feeling of being looked and cared for.
But, there are some barriers to accepting the digital technology such as :
- in those with physical or visual impairment
- those who are illiterate
- those who do not read or speak english
- those residing in geographically remote areas
- those with social phobias
- those concerned about their privacy
Telephones have become more than just a gadget to either receive or make a call. With the new generation smartphones, one can record conversations, take excellent photographs, transfer them instantly through internet, chat with friends on the social media, create presentations for meetings, store data in excel format, fax documents, scan documents, use the phone as an organizer, store songs and movies which can be played when alone or bored. Now – a days, these smartphones have also taken the role of a health assistant which can track the progress in exercise schedule, diet, weight loss, and store personal data such as sugar readings over the past 3 months with a graphical representation included. These can be uploaded where you are on this planet and can be linked to the doctors phone for an instant viewing. The list is endless. Maybe there is an app which can remind one to take the medicines on time in case one has forgotten.
There were days when people used log books to record their sugar readings and might even forget to get them when coming for the consultation. Now – a – days with advancements in technology, there have been significant developments in the way a person with diabetes can record their progress or even hide their frustrations by making excuses such as worn out batteries and even having forgotten them at home.
Things have become so technological these days with the data being uploaded to a remote system or a good mobile devise or even the doctors chambers. This comes particularly handy among the young children who sometimes tell lies to escape the wrath of their parents. The data is instantly shared with the parents phone devise helping them keep a track of the events.
There are numerous applications ( Apps) which can be downloaded either for free or for a price which can help in various functions and even take over as a personal health secretary. The list is so vast and all have not been mentioned here. Some are free to download , some have to be paid for.
Some apps for nutrition include : Fooducate, Carbs and Cals, Carbmaster free, calorie counter, calorie tracker, daily burn, lose it, Go meals, weight watchers mobile
Some apps for exercise include: my fitness pal, run tracker,workout trainer
Some for glucose monitoring include: Bant, dLife, Glucose buddy, GluCoMo, Wave sense, Glooko, DBees.com, Glucatrend diabetes, VRee, On track, Handylogs sugar
Ihealth wireless smart glucomonitoring system and TelCare wireless glucose meter can help synchronize ( or sync ) the data with an App, website or even an i cloud.
This is a devise connected to a glucometer which can transfer data to a remote system or website.
This is a cable connecting a phone to a glucometer. This can be uploaded to the cloud .
Some of the Apps can even show long term trends and graphically represent them making the visualization much better ( if all is going well) . The only problem is one will have to enter the data and allow the App to take care of the rest. This data can be shared with the health care provider almost immediately which helps taking health care to another level.
Diabetes Pal- this helps even recording and advising on level of physical activity and can record the glucose readings as well.
This app lets you record blood glucose levels and note the time of day—such as “before breakfast” or “during activity.” You can view trend graphs, interact in the Glucose Buddy forums, and record insulin injections, exercise, and food eaten. You can also sync your phone to an online account to manage your data on Glucose Buddy’s website. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Manufacturer AgaMatrix’s app lets you log blood glucose levels and type in personal notes. You can record the amount of insulin injected and the number of carbohydrates eaten, and view one-, three-, seven-, 14-, 30-, and 90-day trends in graph or chart form. High, in-range, and low readings are color coded in the logbook. And you can e-mail your stats to family or your doctor. The app comes loaded with about 50 diabetes-related videos. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
With this app one can log and store the blood glucose level as well as food intake, blood pressure, weight, exercise, pulse, A1C results, body fat percentage, and medications taken. For each entry, personal notes can be added. Results can be exported via e-mail to your medical team. Devices: Android phones
Track weight loss, daily food intake, and exercise with this comprehensive app. Meals taken can be added instantly (from a list of common foods, brand-name foods, and restaurant meals, or own recipes) and watch the sliding scale climb toward the recommended daily calorie limit. One can record exercise (choose from a long list of activities), graph the weight loss, get reminders, and share the progress on Facebook and Twitter. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Calorie Counter by MyNetDiary
With this app, eon can record meals (choose from an expansive food library that includes restaurant picks), exercise, water intake, medications, weight and measurements. Food selections include nutrition facts
This app gives an idea of food and how it affects the sugar, recipes and even short videos. The diabetes website dLife makes a diabetes application that you can use to log glucose levels, find recipes and nutrition information, watch dLife videos, and connect with the dLife community and experts to get answers to your diabetes-related questions. Aside from logging the sugar levels, you can graph daily, weekly, or monthly levels and track trends—all of which can be e-mailed to yourself or your health care provider. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
This app could be your shopping companion on the next trip to the grocery store. You can scan barcodes, search for products, and browse categories to find foods you’re shopping for. By selecting a food, you’ll get a list of health pros (100 percent whole grain!) and cons (loaded with high-fructose corn syrup!) and can compare it to similar products. Keep track of products you eat regularly by “liking” a food. Then, next time you hit the store, you can pull up a “my likes” list of foods you might want to buy again. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
7 MINUTE WORKOUT
This is an app which can fit into any routine, has 12 simple exercises which are scientifically formulated.
This has exercises for strength training, yoga, cardio and stretching. All one has to do is to select a workout category, and how long the exercise plan should be for. Accompanying videos will help show how to perform the exercises properly with minimum injury and maximum effect.
This is an app which is ideal for those interested in cycling, running, swimming and biking. This has an in built Goal Coach which sets a realistic goal to follow.
ManageBGL is an app that offers a simulated insulin pump. This is of use among those who are having Type 1 diabetes or those having type 2 diabetes with multiple doses of insulin.This needs some input such as current and previous blood sugar levels, carbohydrate intake, insulin dose and this will predict the future glucose readings and aid in auto calculation of bolus insulin dose.
To help those who are handicapped with poor eyesight, some glucometers have come with a voice readout.
Sharing the data through social media such as WhatsApp, TalkRay , Viber, Instagram and Facebook have made the modes of sending across data almost instantaneously. If you ever noticed, a once upon a time luxury called email, has now almost become mandatory. There have been instances when patients have even used the above to send me snaps of the medicines they wish to have refilled or even to send me snaps of some ulcers on their foot to help monitor the progress and even to help with their appointments. Scanning and sending their test results from the far corners of the world can be sent across through one of these portals.
Normally during the cold winter months, the levels of HbA1C, the 3 month average of sugar, can be higher due to higher food quantity consumed to combat the cold, the frequent outdoor barbeques and probably excess liquor consumption with the co incident Christmas and New Year festivities. People spend more time indoors in places where the weather is extreme. Lack of adequate physical activity and excess sleeping hours cuddled up under the warm blankets add more insult. It is quite natural to gain 5-6 kilos during the winter.
Blood Sugar Testing
The finger tips may be cold and so warm them by rubbing them together or wrapping them around a hot mug before pricking the finger for testing. In places where it snows, the glucometer kit has to be kept warm in covered bags so that errors do not come in the readings
It is difficult to work up a sweat while exercising during this time and one may feel cold after the exercise due to the evaporation. Remember to dress adequately while going for outdoor exercises. Hydration with adequate amounts of fluids is still important even in the colder months. Dehydration can increase the sugar levels.
Exercise such as skipping rope, doing the Hula Hoop, aerobics, dancing, yoga, swimming in thermal controlled swimming pools or working out in an indoor gymnasium do wonders. The benefits of exercise are the same whether done during winter or summer!!
Some blame the cold for exercising outdoors, but then they also blame the summer heat and humidity when that sets in.
Care of Skin
It is important to take good care of the skin as it can dry quite fast. Adequate and generous application of moisturising creams, and sunscreen if going to winter sports such as skiing or snow surfing or those just trekking in the snow laden mountains are very important. Adequate hydration keeps the skin shining and hydrated.
Those with neuropathy ( where the nerves of the feet are not working properly) may have difficulty in gauging the heat of water used for bathing.
Take care of the feet. Do not use hot water bags to keep yourself warm. Use multiple layers of clothing or socks at night to the feet. In some countries warm fireplaces keep the rooms warm, but beware the carbon monoxide accumulation.
Food & Beverages
Alcohol may cause a sense of warmth caused by dilatation of blood vessels, but the same may be lost after some time. Manage the consumption of alcohol wisely. Try to take hot beverages and easily digestible food such as soups, oats, porridge, steamed food and some fruits. Black tea with crushed ginger and black pepper is a good drink to even soothe the throat. Remember that excess red meat consumption can lead to high cholesterol levels in some races. The temperature can get quite low at night and it is natural people may eat more to raise their body temperature. Remember you do not need that much food at dinner whether it is summer or winter. It is healthier to sleep on a lighter stomach.
Frequent respiratory infections , mostly viral, are quite common. It is wise to have a Flu vaccine taken once a year rather than have to take multiple courses of antibiotics and medications to combat the infection. The elder adults should have a shot of pneumococcal vaccine once in their life.
It is also quite common to get infections due to food poisoning from eating out .
Use tissues, frequent washing of hands using soap and water or sanitizers especially before shaking hands with others help to prevent transmission.
Gargling of the throat with warm saline helps. So also does steam inhalation.
Fizzy cool sugary drinks do not help whether it is summer or winter.
Enjoy the winter because you will wish it was like this when summer blasts in.
Glycemic index ( GI )of a food is the increase in blood glucose ( above fasting glucose) 2 hours after ingestion of a constant amount of food divided by a reference food( usually glucose).
To make this easy to understand, if the GI of a particular food is 72, this means that 72% of the ingested food is converted to glucose within the body after 2 hours of consumption.
GI reflects the rate at which carbohydrate is absorbed and digested by the body. Try to aim for low GI food combined with medium or high GI food rather than have more of high GI food. Whatever be the diet chosen, the dietary management has to be combined with physical activity for maximum benefit. A diet which suits one person may not suit all. It is advisable to see which food increases the sugar levels by checking the sugar levels after each food ( this is painful, but this can help to decide which food suits a person).
Low GI food stuff with the GI levels
Yoghurt low fat 14 Milk chocolate 24 Multi grain bread 48 Broccoli 15 Spaghetti 27 Parboiled rice 48 Celery 15 Skimmed milk 32 Carrot juice 45 Bell peppers 15 Fat free milk 32 Jams and marmalade 49 Spinach 15 Apple 38 Low fat ice cream 50 Tomato 15 Plum 38 Orange juice 52 Soya beans boiled 16 Pears 38 Kiwi 53 Artichoke 15 Apricots dried 31 Banana 54 Asparagus 15
Black beans 41 Sweet potato 54 Cauliflower 15 Boiled lentils 29 Egg plant 15 Boiled kidney beans 29 Lettuce 15 Green beans 15 Peanuts 15 Cucumber 15
Medium GI food with their GI levels
Oat bran 55 Rye-flour bread 64 Rice, brown 55 Apricots (tinned in syrup) 64 Fruit cocktail 55 Raisins 64 Spaghetti, durum wheat 55 Macaroni cheese 64 Popcorn 55 Beetroot 64 Muesli 56 Mars bar 64 Mangoes 56 Black bean soup, tinned 64 Potato, boiled 56
Cake , tart 65 Mini Wheats (wholemeal) 57 Potato, steamed 65 * Table sugar (sucrose) 65 Apricots 57
Barley, flakes 66 Potato, new 57 Pineapple 66 Digestives 58 Rice, white 58 Croissant 67 Pizza, cheese 60 Ryvita 67 Hamburger bun 61 *Ice-cream 61 Whole meal bread 69 Shredded Wheat 69 Muffin (unsweetened) 62 Potato, mashed 70
High GI food with their GI levels
White bread 71 Broad beans 79 Golden Grahams 71 Jelly beans 80 Millet 71 Pretzels 81 ** Watermelon 72 Rice Krispies 82 White rolls 73 Potato, micro waved 82 Puffed wheat 7 Cornflakes 83 Corn chips 74 Potato, instant 83 Chips75
**Potato, baked 85 Rice pasta, brown 92 Doughnut 76 Wafer biscuits 77 ** Rice cakes 77
** low in calories and highly nutritious
* empty calories
Did you know that every ten seconds a person dies from diabetes related complications?
Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of global death by any disease.
Remember that heart problem is the number one cause of death among those with diabetes. It is said that a person does not die of diabetes, but instead of the heart ailment. The presentation can be just as a spasm of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscles or a frank attack where the blood vessel supplying the heart muscle is blocked completely or the heart may be enlarged.
The pain normally associated with heart attack is absent for those with diabetes. Hence, any “simple” chest discomfort may warrant a heart check up rather than treat it as simple gastritis or “gas”. Sometimes the discomfort may travel down the left arm, neck, back or to the shoulder. If the discomfort is associated sweating and faintness, consult with your doctor immediately. There are many tests that the cardiologist( doctor who specializes in heart diseases) will order for.
Control of the blood pressure and lipids are more important to prevent a heart attack. Sugar control is not all that important to prevent an attack, though. There are medicines which may have to be started by the health care professional to prevent such a calamity.
An ECG ( electrocardiogram) is done with patient in resting state and can tell if an ongoing chest pain is related to the heart or not or if a previous episode of chest discomfort was from the heart. It also tells about the rate.
An ECHO cardiogram is also done either in resting or under some form of exercise. This shows the size of the chambers of the heart, the dimensions of the valves, the blood flow and other parameters.
A Treadmill test will show how the heart copes with exercise. Patients with problems in their back bones or knees cannot do this test unless under supervision. Changes in the heart rate, rhythm , blood pressure may be noted which can point towards a block in the coronary vessels.
A coronary angiogram is a test done to map the coronary vessels. This is done by either introducing a tube through a vessel in the thigh or through a normal cannula in the arm. A dye is injected and films are shot. Blocks can be seen which are interpreted by either the radiologist or cardiologist. The blocks can be stented or ballooned or operated depending on the site and number of blocks.
The doctor will check the kidney function periodically to check if there is the beginning of kidney disease. Reduction of urine output and swelling of the face, body and feet with losing consciousness is a late feature. The presence of microalbumin in urine is an early feature which needs treatment. However, having menstrual periods, a mild urinary infection, having exercised just prior to giving the sample or having fever, the levels of microalbumin can be high. The health care provider will determine if another test is to be repeated. With proper control of sugar, blood pressure the levels improve. Some need medications to help reduce the levels.
Sometimes , dialysis or transplantation is needed when the kidneys reach a terminal stage. Consult with your doctor regarding the diet to be followed if there is such an event. You may have to consult a nephrologist( specialist in kidney diseases).
This is probably the most important of all the organs as far as we all are concerned. What is the use in living, if your eyes are not working or you are blind? Diabetes is the commonest cause of preventable blindness. One would never enjoy the beauty around us and the marvels of the Almighty if it were not for the eyes. Strangely even with good eyesight, we sometimes do “not see” the marvels of God.
Most of the people decide to meet the eye doctor when their eye sight is quite bad…. Till then most meet with the optician who checks the power of the glasses and they are happy.
Good control of sugar can prevent the onset of eye disorders. High blood pressure can also damage the eyes. Being a smoker too can affect the eye sight. It is generally believed that eye sight will become poor with advancing age due to onset of cataract (clouding up of the lens) , Being a diabetic can even make a young patient susceptible to development of cataracts.
The ophthalmologist( the doctor who specializes in eye diseases) will check the pressure in the eyes, look for cataract and also for the retina after instilling drops in the eyes. The eyes will be out of focus for close to an hour or two after the test. Remember checking the power of the eyes is not the test for diabetes check up. Close to 70% of the retina will be damaged before problems arise in vision. It is important to prevent these complications from arising by having an annual checkup with your eye doctor.
Changes in sugar levels can affect the clear fluid in which the lens is bathed in the eye. Thus there is a blurred vision which many people compare to a curtain kept in front of their eyes. The clear fluid becomes turbid when high sugar levels occur and then clears up when the sugar level normalizes. It is, therefore, important to mention to the eye specialist you are diabetic and whether under good control or not. It is wise to have new reading glasses when the sugar levels are normal.
When to meet the eye doctor?
• Blurred vision
• Trouble reading
• Seeing double
• Injury to eye
• Spots or floaters in the eyes
• Eyes get red and itchy
• You cannot see things on the outside of your eye vision field.
Know your eyes
The eyes are your mirror to the outside world. The eyes are covered by eye lids protecting it from external trauma or injury. This also prevents the eyes from drying out. Light enters through the cornea and travels through the center of the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. Light then falls on the retina situated at the back of the eye which then converts these signals to signals which can be read by the brain and is transmitted through nerves to the brain for us to understand what we are seeing. All this happens in fractions of seconds …
Know some terms
Glaucoma: This is term used when the pressure in the eyes increase. This can happen in those with a longer duration of diabetes. The vision of the eye is gradually lost. The eye doctor will perform tests which will determine how severe it is and will prescribe either eye drops or surgery.
Cataract: This is term used when the lens becomes cloudy. Normally elderly people get cataracts even without being a diabetic. Cataract may occur in younger adults if they are diabetic. The eye doctor will advise what to do after checking for cataract. For some people the retinopathy will become worse if treated for cataract and for some glaucoma may develop.
Retinopathy- this is term used to mean damage to the retina, the nerve layer of the eye. About 70 percent of the retina has to be damaged for one to show changes in eye sight. By this time, it will be so severe, complex treatment plans will have to be made with outcomes resulting in compromised vision. The small blood vessels in the back of the eye balloon out and may form pouches. They may start leaking. This may cause swelling of the nearby parts of the eye and even cause a lifting up of this layer, called retinal detachment. The eye doctor will advise how to get treated depending on the stage the eyes are.
Often, this is the most neglected of all the body parts. It has been studied that women care more for their feet than men. It has also been shown in studies that the foot problems are less among the muslim population due to the washing of their feet for prayer 5 times a day. One should pamper the feet at night daily.
The feet may swell up ( due to high blood pressure, kidney disease, the effects of the medicines you are given, or heart disease). You may notice the skin becomes dry (which can cause itchiness), the nails can get deformed, you may notice white rashes between the toes, decreased sensation to hot and cold and small wounds go unnoticed unless pointed out by somebody.
You have to inspect your feet daily with a mirror, apply moisturizing cream to the top and bottom of the feet ( avoid the areas between the toes), trim the toe nails straight ( taking care not to cut the corners), use one size extra shows or footwear, avoid narrow footwear, use loose cotton stockings, check the inside of the shoes daily and wash your feet daily, but dry them properly. Never cut calluses( thickened skin) yourself as it will risk injury.
The doctor will usually check the pulsations of the feet blood vessels, check for temperature sensation, check for fine sensation with a thread and the reflex at the ankle. You may need to have custom made footwear in some cases.
Remember to show the doctor for any wounds or cracks or ulcers that may develop. Remember that any infection can spread rapidly in diabetic patients which may sometimes need an operation resulting in loss of limb. Coupled with smoking, diabetes is dangerous combination.
Sometimes the legs may ache while walking or may have cramps at night. This can be the starting feature of a nerve problem. Consult your doctor if this happens.
Get educated. One key to preventing diabetic skin problems is to understand what causes them. Talk to your doctor. Learn about diabetic skin complications, what your particular risks are, and how you can lower them.
Control your diabetes. Controlling the blood glucose within normal range can go far toward preventing common diabetic skin complications.
To get a handle on your diabetes, strive for a healthy weight, eat right, cut back on salt, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and exercise. That’s a tall order, but talk to your health care team for support.
Be aware. If you suffer from diabetic nerve damage (neuropathy), you can have an infected cut, scratch, or skin puncture and not know it. Don’t let a small problem turn into a big one .Check your feet, ankles, in between your toes and legs regularly for wounds that aren’t healing.
Do something about wounds and sores. Don’t neglect wound care. If you find a nick, a scratch, a small cut, anything that isn’t healing or that worries you, talk to your doctor immediately.
Cover up. This simple first line of defense can help you avoid the cuts and scratches that can lead to infection. Whether you’re gardening or walking the dog, cover your legs with long pants and your feet with flat, good-fitting shoes.
Practice good skin care. Keeping skin clean and dry, but not too dry, is key to good diabetic skin care.
Keep skin comfortably dry, especially at armpits, toes, and groin. Talcum powder can help.
But avoid drying skin out. Skin that’s too dry can crack, itch, and get infected, so prevent that by taking short, lukewarm showers or baths and using mild soaps and shampoos when you wash. Avoid deodorant or scented cleansers, which can be harsh on sensitive skin.
Moisturize if your skin is dry . The best time to moisturize is right after a shower or bath, when skin is still moist.
Dry well by patting gently — don’t rub — focusing on underarms, between legs, under breasts, and between toes.
Diabetes and teeth
This is probably the most neglected of the various aspects of ones body. Many are unaware that care of the mouth is as important as looking after the eyes, feet or heart when one has diabetes.
Some presentations will be :
• Slow healing time after dental procedures
• Fungal infections coming very frequently( white patches)
• Dry mouth
• Cavities in the teeth
What can be done to minimize the risk
• Brush your teeth after every meal and floss the space between the teeth at least once daily.
• Use oral antibacterial rinses to wash away the germs
• Meet the dentist at least yearly once.
The gums ( pink tissue on which the teeth are embedded) can become soft, spongy and start bleeding. Later on the gums may detach themselves from the teeth causing them to have pockets. These pockets can harbor organisms which can erode into the underlying bone and can cause the tooth to be loose. The infection may spread at an alarming rate that you may have to be hospitalized and the infection can even spread to as far as the brain through the rich network of blood vessels on the face.
High Blood Pressure ( Hypertension)
Blood pressure has 2 values- a systolic ( the reading at top) and a diastolic ( reading at the bottom). This is checked at every visit to the doctor by a machine called sphygmomanometer. The most accurate one is the one using mercury( which are rare these days). Often, digital and air driven machines are used and freely available for use at home or office. Normally the blood pressure can be high when consulting with the doctor( due to anxiety). If found high, recheck either at home first thing in the morning and before going to bed for a week. Show the readings to the doctor for making a decision. Alternatively, a machine can be left attached to the body which will record the pressure for a week during the days for varying periods up to a week. The average of those readings will determine of you are having high blood pressure or not. This can help detect blood pressure fluctuations while asleep. Most of the serious side effects of high blood pressure ( heart attacks and strokes) are in the early hours of the morning after midnight.
If found to have high blood pressure, the doctor will advise you to cut down on salt intake. (Pickles, sauces, tinned vegetables, ketchup, salted butter, sausages and hams all contain salt in excess) Besides this, you will be asked to reduce the consumption of red meat, fried food, smoking and alcohol. You will also be advised to increase intake of fruits and vegetables. The doctor will advise you to
Try out relaxation methods. This may vary from person to person- such as dancing, listening to music, playing golf, walking, reading, gardening, painting, yoga classes, swimming and so forth. ALCOHOL and SMOKING DO NOT FORM HEALTHY RELAXATION TECHNIQUES!.
The normal blood pressure is < 130/80 mm Hg. Even reducing the pressure by 20/10 mm Hg has significant benefits on the various organs such as heart, eyes, kidneys and brain. Very often, more than one medicine may be needed to control the blood pressure. Sometimes the doctor has to prescribe blood pressure medicines to control the leak of protein in the urine though the blood pressure reading will be normal. Most of these medicines help to protect the kidneys and heart as well. The blood pressure will never reach zero as the body will take measures to correct itself. Only 18% of the diabetic patients reach the target goal of blood pressure.
This is a state of disillusion, frustration and a meek submission to diabetes which results in complete disregard to blood sugar level management. This is regarded as “freedom” from this confusing , frustrating and ever demanding condition. This is often seen many years after commencement of treatment.
This burnout is usually accompanied by varying levels of stress, anxiety, depression and labile emotions.
- Scared of living with diabetes
- uncomfortable social situations- cannot swim, cannot party, cannot be out for late night meetings, cannot do this or that…
- overwhelmed and angry with diabetes
- feeling “alone”
- Feeling diabetes is taking too much of mental and physical energy
- Food deprivation
- concerns about the future- “Can I marry?”, “Will I be able to conceive or have a normal sexual life”, “How long can I live?”
The commonest modes of presenting can be:
- Self destructive behavior
- Eating or drinking whatever one wants knowing fully well it is not good for those with diabetes.
- Improper insulin shots or lying about medicine intake
- Improper maintenance of log books
- Fabricating glucometer readings
- Complications of diabetes can set in which in turn makes things worse to a point of suicidal behavior.
How to overcome a burnout?
- Stay focused and motivated. Do not attempt to be perfect- forgive those occasional high sugar levels if other readings are fine.
- Identify barriers to care of diabetes and resolve them.
- Edit negative thoughts
- Enroll into support groups
- Speak with a friend or health care professional
- Rethink exercise schedule
- take a break
- Laugh it off
A check list:
Ask yourself whether you have done the following:
• Enough medicines are there with you.
• Have you had the blood tests for cholesterol, liver, kidney, hemoglobin , urine for protein, sugar and 3 month average of sugar at least once in the past 6 months.
• Have you had a foot check , an eye check by eye doctor and a heart check such as having an ECHO cardiogram and Treadmill test in the past one year. There are instances when the treadmill could not be done due either being overweight or having knee or back problems.
• If an elderly male, have you had a PSA test done in the past one year ( this is a blood test for the prostate) Alternatively, you could meet with a Urologist, the specialist for these problems.
• If an elderly male or female, have you had the calcium, vitamin D levels checked in the past year and a bone mineral density which is a scan for the bones showing if they are prone for fractures. Vitamin D levels, if very low, will need a correction with medicines and a recheck done depending on the doctors advice.
• Women after the age of menopause or those with a strong family history of cancer of the breast should have a mammogram ( special X ray of the breast) done once yearly.
• Thyroid levels can be checked yearly once , unless on treatment.
• Distended abdomen, “gaseous feeling” and belching with a mild upper chest discomfort can sometimes be a marker for something sinister. Have a gastroscopy done to make sure there are no ulcers.
• All bleeding from below is not from ‘piles”. It may also be worthwhile to have a colonoscopy done.
• Have you been monitoring your progress and if you can see no improvement in either the sugar levels or weight, you must seriously reconsider your options. Please do not always find fault with the doctor or the medicines, the reason could be elsewhere.
• Have you got the glucometer serviced or checked out especially if more than an year old
• Have you shown the Insulin delivery devise to the doctor once a year if the refilled pens are being used. Faulty devices can lead to errors in dosing.
• All said and done, there is no point in doing an annual whole body scan to make sure all is well. There are so many things which may go unnoticed and also will be risk of too much of radiation.
• Please check the footwear daily for wearing out or foreign bodies. They can prevent serious mishaps later.
• Have you had an annual Flu vaccine? This will reduce the flu which occurs while traveling a lot
• For those above 65 years of age a pneumococcal vaccine is useful. This is to be taken just once in a lifetime.
Once we are born, we all have to die someday. During the course of our life, we learn a lot from our experiences, sometimes we do not. We all wish to live longer and age gracefully. You may recollect that our grandparents lived longer and healthier. This is largely due to reduced stress levels, natural unprocessed food, more of physical activity and less dependent on automated gadgets or electronic gadgets.
Ironically, people of today look for shortcuts to everything for example weight reduction surgery, face lift surgeries various plastic surgical techniques to help beat natural aging and also gadgets which can remotely control everything in life from opening the gates, switching on the lights, locking the house and what not. Who knows, maybe in the near future we may even have drive in hospitals where you drive into the OPD room, speak out your symptoms into a machine , get a token, have blood drawn for tests and have the doctor give the medicines at another counter.( like as in Mc Donalds drive through)
Life has indeed become so fast, we hardly have the time to stop and think of ourselves. There are so many age defying cosmetics flooding the market these days.
Many people with diabetes live to a ripe age by leading a healthy lifestyle and regular check. However, some are lucky not to have diabetes until their middle years, but become diabetic after 65 years or more. In a study around 7% of the older adults were diagnosed as having diabetes by noting high fasting sugar, whereas 6% were diagnosed based on their post meal sugar levels.
Common changes with advancing age
Glucose intolerance increases and slowing of the glucose absorption occurs with advancing age. There is a decline in lean body mass, there may be an increase in body fat due to increasing insulin resistance. There may be a decline in level of physical activity.
The medicines that were once doing well in controlling sugar levels may not work as effective as age advances.
Older adults may not perceive hunger and may not feel thirsty as well. Digestion becomes delayed. Bowel habits may not be regular as before. Skin may become dry. The response to low sugar levels are much slower as age advances. Low sugar levels may manifest as confusion and dizziness. Tremors and sweating are not common.
- Reduced vision, reduced mobility and memory loss is also common. Mistakes while dosing the medicines are also common.
- Complication of the eye, nerve and kidney is directly linked to the level of sugar control. Maintaining good levels can delay the onset or progression of the above complications.
- However, heart diseases stroke, and blood vessel problems are directly linked to the control of blood pressure and cholesterol panel. This is one reason why doctors prescribe medicines for cholesterol even when the levels are normal.
- With advancing age, any of the above complications are possible. The recovery from the complications will not be as smooth as when coming at a younger age.
- Some need assistance while walking such as a physical support or a walking stick. The floor in most of the places has a smooth surface and planting the feet is quite a hazard.
- Most of the time, older adults feel embarrassed to address their fears to their dependents. They may feel better to mention those to their healthcare providers. This is quite normal
There are not many studies involving older adults. However, based on some of the studies, the following are applicable:
- Sugar levels between 7 to 8.5 mmol/L is acceptable
- Blood pressure ≤ 140/80 mm Hg
- Total cholesterol ≤ 5.2 mmol/L
- HbA1C ( the three month average of sugar ) is not reliable in older adults as red cell span may be reduced with advancing age. Diseases of the kidney and liver may affect the value.
However, the levels of blood sugar and 3 month average are not to be as stringent as for that of a younger person.
Increase in urine output may be due to urinary bladder irritation or dysfunction, medications for reducing blood pressure or due to prostate enlargement in males and not always due to high blood sugar levels.
Low sugar levels can mimic having a fit or stroke.
- The check up for the older adults must be more regular and frequent. The annual eye, heart check and foot check may have to be done more frequently if there are minor problems.
- Assessment of the kidney function is made by blood tests which may show changes. This can be tackled if checked for.
- Care of the feet may need heel protection, extra cushioning of wheel chair of bedding and prevention of dry skin is important.
- Driving at this age may be troublesome due to the reduced vision, reduced judgment and reflexes.
- Have the calcium, vitamin D levels checked as well as the bone mineral density. Older men have to be assessed for prostate as well.
- Make sure the older patient above 65 years must have taken a vaccination against pneumonia once and a vaccine against flu yearly.
- Many of the older adults may be having medicine such as diuretics ( which increase urination), hormones such for post menopause or steroids , and anti depressants which may worsen sugar control.
- Maintain good oral hygiene, check the feet, the skin folds for fungal rashes and boils which may go unnoticed by the patients.
- Make sure the bowels move once a day as constipation is very common.
The consultation with the health care professional:
- It will be useful if a small handbook can be used for mentioning their concerns as they may forget during the consultation.
- Maintaining a log book of the sugar readings and a diary of food intake will help to make inferences and plan management.
- The consultation can take more time than normal making the patient understand what is expected.
- The waiting period can be a problem as well. It will be worthwhile to have the blood and urine samples drawn early and they can have a light snack while waiting for their turn.
- Most of these adults are on many medicines and so may have gastritis.
- It is worthwhile to have a check by Gastroscopy ( a tube inserted through mouth to see if any ulcers in the stomach) or colonoscopy( tube inserted through anus to look for any problems down below)
- It sure pays to empathize with the elderly. They need the love and attention.
- Exercises in this age group are to be carefully planned.
- For those with eye problems or after laser treatment, it is advised to avoid intense exercises which may further increase the pressure.
- For those with neuropathy, it is advisable to perform exercises such as walking or cycling. Be careful of weight lifting.
- Jogging and swimming can be done if they have been doing the same routine over the years.
- However, get the doctors advice and clearance before planning a regime.
- Any exercise in water is useful and safe for the joints. It helps to burn calories as well.
- Walking together in groups or even performing aerobics, Yoga or Tai Chi also help in a better way as combining enjoyment with exercises make this pleasurable and motivated to continue with this. Yoga, meditation also help in relaxation.
The aims of management:
- The management of older adults involves avoiding low sugar levels, avoiding weight gain or loss in excess and to maintain well being.
- Metformin, gliclazide, Vildagliptin and Sitagliptin are safe to use among the oral medicines.
- Insulin is safe if used sensibly. The advent of pen devices has helped the patient care. It allows accurate dosing and gives audible clicks while dialing the dose. Using the bottle of insulin and syringe may be clumsy at times and can give erroneous dosing which can be quite a headache.
- It is better to have simple treatment plans rather than complex regimes difficult to remember.
- The patient care given, the patient care giver, the patient care process and the patient care outcome are very important in the management of this elder population.
Hypoglycemia or low sugar is one of the nightmares of the patients and the doctors alike. High and low sugars may both present with sweating , confusion and sometimes even unconsciousness.
The commonest causes being taking too much of insulin or some medicines or forgetting to take food, too intense an exercise, consuming alcohol and some tumors of the pancreas.
Generally sweating, shaking of the hands, irritation, craving for food, beating fast of the heart, headache, stomach pain (gastritis) and clouding of consciousness. The body tries to correct the levels itself by an in built mechanism.
For the elderly adults low sugar manifests as confusion, delirium and drowsiness. Tremors and sweating are rare for the elderly with low sugar levels.These can mimic those with a fit or stroke and is, for that strange reason, often misdiagnosed.
For some people the body fails to recognize the features of low sugar. This is dangerous as very low levels are needed for the body to recognize it thereafter. This is called unawareness.
What can be done?
If low sugar happens, drink a can of orange juice or chew on some dry raisins or put some sugar into your mouth. If glucose tablets are available, that is a good option. Chocolates are not a good solution for low sugars as the fat content in chocolates delay the fast rise in sugar. Check your sugar level after 15 minutes and if still low, repeat the above. Get to nearest hospital and get this corrected if needed.
Categories of hypoglycemia:
• Documented hypoglycemia: typical symptoms of hypoglycemia and when the plasma glucose is ≤70 mg%.
• Severe hypoglycemia : An event which requires active assistance of a person to administer glucagon or carbohydrate or adopt any other resuscitative measure.
• Asymptomatic hypoglycemia: An event that is not accompanied by typical symptoms but the plasma glucose ≤70 mg%.
• Probable symptomatic: An event during which hypoglycemic symptoms are not documented with a plasma glucose determination, but presumed to be ≤70 mg%.
• Relative hypoglycemia: An event during which the diabetic patient reports typical symptoms of hypoglycemia, and interprets those as indicative of hypoglycemia, but the plasma glucose is ≥ 70mg%.
While driving if low sugar is encountered, drive off the road, put on distress signals, turn off the car, pull down the windows, remove the key from the ignition, take some sugar or orange juice immediately.( you must have a stock of this in the car always) . The brain takes some time to recover from the low sugar and impulsive driving may be initiated leading to accidents. Always check sugar levels before a long drive, break the journey in between long drives and carry an ID mentioning your diabetic status and contact numbers.
Sometimes hospitalization is also needed in serious cases.
The impact low sugars can have on life is very dramatic. For example, developing this while attending an interview or while at the exams or at an important meeting or while driving, can change the course of ones` life. People may then become introverts avoiding social functions for fear of low sugar. They are often mistaken for drunken behavior as well.
Basic steps while reading a nutrition label:
- Look at the serving size and servings per container. The label will describe the values for a serving. So, If one takes twice the serving, the values should be doubled.
- Look at the calories per serving and the calories from fat. If the commodity contains < 40 cals, it is of low calorie, if <100 cals, it is of a moderate calorie, if <400 cals it is of high calories. Too much of calories will lead to obesity.
- Look for the nutrients to limit- total fat, cholesterol and sodium- these are linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. While using canned food, rinse off the liquid as it contains a lot of sodium.
- Get enough of dietary fiber, vitamin A, Vitamin C and calcium. Usually on reading carefully, the calcium content in skimmed milk or full fat milk is the same. But, in yoghurts, the calcium will vary. Look for fiber 3 g and more.
- Look for hidden sugars- for example,high fructose corn syrup. Look for substances ending in -ol or –ose. They are sugars. Remember that 5 g of sugar is the same as a level spoonful of sugar.
- The footnote is the same in all labels. This shows the percentage daily values for an average American who is moderately active. He will need 2000 Kcals a day. For a more active American, 25000 Kcals or more may be needed. The values against each of the main nutrients are mentioned. This label will not change with the food.
- Look for % DV ( Daily value) of 20% and above for nutrients that are good and 5% and below for those which are to be limited.
• The top of the label describes a standard serving size and how many servings a package contains — critical information for interpreting the rest of the numbers on the label.
• A bottle of sweetened ice tea may only have 75 calories per serving. But if that bottle contains two and a half servings and you drink the whole bottle, you’re consuming 225 calories.
• Serving sizes are based on standard measures agreed upon by the USDA and the FDA. One serving of cereal is 3/4 cup, for instance. A single serving of macaroni and cheese is a cup. Most all of the information that follows on the nutrition label is based on that serving size, from calories to grams of fat. So it’s essential to know what a serving is, and to know how much you actually eat.
Phrase Definition ……………and………..What they actually mean
No fat or fat-free Contains less than 0.5 g of fat for each 100 g/ml
Lower or reduced fat Contains at least 25% less fat for each 100 g than original
Low fat Contains less than 3 g fat for each 100 g or 1.5 g for each 100 ml
Low in saturated fat Contains no more than 1.5g for each 100g or 0.75g for each 100ml
Lite or light Contains 25% less kilojoules than the original or comparative product
Sugar free Contains less than ½ g sugar for each 100g
Reduced sugar Contains at least 25% less sugar for each serving than the original product
No added sugar Sugar in any form has not been added as an ingredient
Unsweetened No sugar or sweetener has been added
No preservatives added Contains no added chemicals but may contain natural preservatives
Low sodium Contains less than 120 mg sodium for each 100g
No salt or salt-free Contains 5 mg or less of sodium for each 100g
High fiber Contains between 4.8 g– 6g or more fibre for each 100g
Lean Equal to or less than 10% of total fat
Extra lean Equal to or less than 5% of total fat
Low chole ol Contains 20 mg for each 100g or 10 mg for each 100 ml
• Foods can only be labeled as ‘low in energy’ if it contains no more than 170 kJ for each 100 g of solid food or 80 kJ for each 100 ml of liquids.
• Foods can only be labeled as ‘high in energy’ if it contains 950 kJ for each 100 g of solid food or 250 kJ for each 100 ml of liquids.
• Food labels can no longer appear to be endorsed by a health practitioner (for example medical doctor, dietitian etc), or be associated with testimonials like ‘Mrs X has lost 20 kg by using product Y’.
The use of terms such as ‘healthy’, ‘wholesome’ or ‘nutritious’ is banned.
• Food labels are no longer allowed to state or imply that the product can cure any medical condition.
• Foods that were previously advertised as ‘no sugar added’ or ‘sugar free’ will be banned if the product contains any type of sugar form or derivative such as honey, molasses, sucrose, sugar, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup.
A second phase of regulations is planned and will define food advertising that is targeted at children, the glycemic index and foods that are non-essential for a healthy diet.
Did you Know?
• Fortified, enriched, added, extra and plus actually means that the nutrients such as minerals and fiber have been removed and vitamins have been added while processing. Look for 100% wheat or low sugar cereals.
• Fruit drinks may have little or no real fruit with lots of sugar. Look for 100% fruit juices.
• Natural – may have started with natural ingredients, but while processing will lose the “natural” component.
Food labels are meant for adults and not for children. Please remember that children may need > 2000 Kcals or < 2000 Kcals depending on their level of activity or whether they are boys or girls. Children however will benefit from looking at the calories per serving, the fats per serving, the fibers per serving and make good choices. Most of the children will need food containing more calcium and iron.
If you have diabetes, one needs a blood glucose meter — a small device — to measure, store and display the blood glucose level. Glucometer is commonly used in emergency rooms in hospitals, ambulatory medical care services as in ambulances, helicopters or sea transport while shifting patients. The glucometer is used for analysing sugar leels and adjust dose medication with the help of the health care professional or diabetes educator. This is not used in the diagnosis of Diabetes.
Exercise, food, medications, stress and other factors affect the blood glucose level. Using a blood glucose meter can help better manage the diabetes by tracking any fluctuations caused by these factors.
Many types of blood glucose meters are available, from basic models to more-advanced meters with multiple features and options. The cost of blood glucose meters and test strips varies. Study all the options before deciding which model to buy.. As with any electronic device, this cannot be immersed in water, should not be stored in extremes of temperature and humidity which can affect the device or even the test strips. Most of the new model glucometer devices have an in built check that does not display readings at extremes of temperature. Using a glucometer at high altitude as when climbing high mountains can give erratic readings.
The glucometer uses an enzymatic portion on a test strip which is in a dehydrated state when packed and a detector. The glucose in the blood sample reacts with the enzyme to produce the level which is detected. The commonly used enzymes are hexokinase, glucose oxidase and glucose dehydrogenase
Basics while using any glucometer
- Check the expiration date of the kit
- Make sure the lancets, glucometer, test strips are available globally.
- Make sure the warranty card is filled out and handed over.
- Ask for a demonstration if need be.
- Some meters need a code chip to be inserted with each new box of test strips.
- Always clean the finger tip before pricking the finger tip for the sample of blood. The sides of the non dominant hand are used as the skin is thinner at the side of the fingertips.
- The blood should be flowing well. Do not squeeze the finger tip excessively to get the blood out- this affects the reading.
- Do not reuse the lancets or test strips.
- Dispose the lancets in a sharps disposal bin.
- Remember to use the glucometer often, say at least twice a week. If not used regularly, it may cause the batteries to wear off by discharging or the IC to burn off. It is similar to a motor car that is not used for a month or two. The battery will not work at that time.
- Get the glucometer calibrated often as well as periodic testing of the control solution is necessary.
Choosing the right meter
When selecting a blood glucose meter, it can help to know the basics of how they work.
- To use most blood glucose meters, first insert one end of a test strip into the device.
- Then, prick a clean fingertip with a special needle (lancet) to get a drop of blood.
- Wipe away the first drop of blood.
- Carefully touch the other end of the test strip to the drop of blood and wait for a blood glucose reading to appear on the screen. There are meters which can determine the blood glucose and blood ketone levels as well. These meters are useful for type 1 diabetic patients. It is marketed by the Freestyle under the name Freestyle Optium Xceed.
Blood glucose meters are usually accurate in how they measure glucose, but they differ in the type and number of features they offer. There is a difference between the values obtained by the glucometer and the blood test done at the hospital. The glucometer checks the capillary glucose level. The hospital or clinic estimates the glucose from a sample drawn from the vein.
Here are several factors to consider when choosing a blood glucose meter:
• Cost. Meters vary in price, so shop around. Be sure to factor in the cost of test strips as the insurance doesn’t pay for them. Test strips are the most expensive part of monitoring because they’re used so often. A meter may be the cheapest one on the market, but may not be a good deal if the strips cost twice as much. Also, individually packaged strips tend to cost more, but you might not use all the strips in a container before the expiration date or within the required number of days after opening the container. Figure out which type of strip is most cost-effective for you. Remember that the strips have expiration dates on the cover. Please check it out.
• Ease of use and maintenance. Some meters are easier to use than others. Are both the meter and test strips comfortable to hold? Can you easily see the numbers on the screen? How easy is it to get blood onto the strips? Does it require a small or large drop of blood?
- Also, some brands of meters need to be coded and others have no coding. Code numbers are used to calibrate your meter with the test strips for accurate results. Make sure the strips can be bought from other parts of the world as well so that travel does not be cumbersome.
• Special features. Ask about the features to see what meets your specific needs. For example, some meters are large with strips that are easier to handle. Some are compact and easier to carry. People with impaired vision can buy a meter with a large screen or a “talking” meter that announces the results. Colorful meters that give a quick reading are available for children. Some models have a backlight, which is handy for nighttime readings. Others are manufactured to withstand extreme temperatures, which may be useful for people who spend a lot of time outdoors, such as hikers or construction workers.
• Information storage and retrieval. Consider how the meter stores and retrieves information. Some can track all the information one would normally write in a log, such as the time and date of a test, the result, and trends over time. Some meters offer the ability to download your blood glucose readings to a computer or your cell phone and then email the test results to your doctor.
• Support. Many meter manufacturers include a toll-free number on the back of the meter or packing. Look for a meter that includes clear instructions that demonstrate the correct way to use the meter. Some manufacturers offer user manuals on their websites.
Although finger pricks remain the gold standard for blood sugar monitoring, researchers are developing products designed to take the “ouch” out of the process. You might ask your doctor about these alternatives.
Alternative site monitor Allows blood samples from areas likely to be less painful than your finger, such as your arm, abdomen or thigh Not as accurate as fingertip samples when blood sugar level is rising or falling quickly.
Continuous glucose testing Uses a sensor placed under skin to measure blood sugar level; transmits each reading to a small recording device worn on your body; sounds an alarm if blood sugar level becomes too low or too high Expensive; requires sensor to be replaced every three to seven days depending on the brand; must check blood sugar level with a traditional monitor when dosing for insulin or treating low blood sugar to confirm readings
• Infrared, laser light and electric current technologies are among a few of the possible offerings on the horizon for noninvasive methods of checking blood sugar levels. But, these may cause irritation to the skin where it is placed upon.
Consider these factors that affect meter accuracy and the steps to resolve or prevent the problem:
- Test strip problems —Throw out damaged or outdated test strips. Store strips in their sealed container; keep them away from heat, moisture and humidity. Be sure the strips are meant for your specific glucose meter.
- Extremes of temperature —Keep your glucose meter and test strips at room temperature.
- Alcohol, dirt or other substances on your skin— Wash your hands and the testing site with soap and water before pricking your skin.
- Improper coding— Some meters must be coded to each container of test strips. Be sure the code number in the device matches the code number on the test strip container.
- Monitor problems —Fully insert the test strip into the monitor. Replace the monitor batteries as needed.
- Not enough blood applied to the test strip —Apply a generous drop of blood to the test strip. Don’t add more blood to the test strip after the first drop is applied. Some meters do not need a large drop.
- Testing site location — Blood samples from alternate sites are not as accurate as fingertip samples when the blood sugar level is rising or falling quickly.
Blood glucose monitor quality control tests
When starting a new container of test strips, occasionally perform these quality control tests before using them and when the results seem unusual.
To perform a quality control test, do one or both of the following:
• Test using a control solution. Follow normal blood-testing procedure, but use a liquid control solution instead of blood. These solutions usually come with the monitor and are available at most drugstores and pharmacies. Follow package directions.
• Match the reading with lab results. Take the blood glucose monitor along when visiting the doctor or have an appointment for lab work. Check the blood glucose with the meter at the same time that blood is drawn for lab tests. Then compare the meter’s reading with the lab results. The meter’s result is considered accurate if it falls within 15 percent of the lab test result.