Thursday, May 12, 2011

Continuous Glucose Monitors- Serious Tools for Diabetes Control

Carefully monitoring blood glucose levels is essential for diabetes patients and can make a significant difference in both health and quality of life for these individuals. While nothing can entirely replace daily fingerstick blood tests, continuous blood glucose monitoring systems offer a number of advantages for diabetes patients who want to maintain a higher degree of control over their disease. These monitoring systems require daily calibration, which helps to ensure the accuracy of results in order to provide useful data to health care professionals and patients.

Why Monitoring Is Important
In many cases of diabetes, measuring the fluctuations in blood glucose levels throughout the day provides a better assessment of the patient’s overall control of the disease than once- or twice-per-day checks. The severity of blood sugar fluctuations can offer valuable insights into the effects of diet and exercise on the patient and may allow medical professionals to better advise their patients regarding their daily menus and activities. A constant glucose monitor stores information about changes in glucose levels and can also serve as an early warning for patients about dangerously low or high levels of sugar in the blood that can cause serious side effects if not immediately addressed. This is especially important for individuals who must use insulin to control their diabetes. By continually monitoring glucose levels, patients and physicians can better adjust insulin dosages and prevent episodes of hyperglycemia, or excessively high blood sugar readings.

How Continuous Monitors Work
Typically, continuous monitoring systems consist of three separate parts: sensor, transmitter and receiver. A disposable glucose sensor is placed under the skin where it takes readings from the blood that are then transmitted via radio waves to a receiver that displays the current readings and provides up-to-date information on the glucose levels of the patient. Most monitors feature digital readouts that offer near-instant feedback on the current sugar levels in the patient’s system as well as historical data for physicians and other health care professionals. Continuous monitors usually have a lag time of about five minutes, so it is advisable to verify the readings of the monitoring system with a fingerstick test before acting on the information provided.

Continuous monitoring may not be necessary in all cases. Patients who are not on an insulin regimen may not need the added protection these systems provide. Additionally, these systems may not be covered by all insurance plans, making them an expensive option for some individuals. For patients who use  insulin or who have difficulty in controlling fluctuations in blood sugar levels, however, these blood sugar monitoring systems can serve as an added tool for controlling and living with diabetes.

Jessica writes about a wide variety of topics.  She especially enjoys writing about diabetes. You can learn more about continuous blood glucose monitoring at http://www.dexcom.com/

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