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An essential tool

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Every doctor must have a glucometer handy to test blood sugar levels of patients and detect diabetes in the early stages, says Dr. Pradeep Gadge

The scenario

India has been witnessing an alarming rise in incidence of diabetes according to the International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) fact sheet on diabetes, an estimated 3.4 million deaths are caused due to high blood sugar in India.

What is a glucometer?

Glucometers are hand-held blood glucose monitoring devices, which are used by patients with diabetes to self-monitor their blood sugar levels. It is an easy way to track their blood glucose levels.

How does a glucometer help a diabetic?

Glucometers are indeed an essential tool that every person with diabetes should own. It can be a life-saving device in extreme cases. Very high or very low blood sugar levels can lead to disastrous complications. People with diabetes generally do not experience any particular symptoms until they experience hyperglycemia (when their glucose level is too high) or hypoglycemia (when their glucose level is too low). It is in such cases that self-testing with glucometers can reduce the risks while helping you take better charge of your diabetes.

Implications of testing on a glucometer

  • Testing your blood sugar level is one of the best ways to understand your diabetes and how different foods, medications, and activities affect your diabetes. Keeping track of your blood glucose can help you and your doctor make a plan to manage this condition.
  • Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) is recognised as an integral part of intensive therapy for all forms of diabetes. SMBG is helpful to patients with diabetes by helping patients to detect high or low blood glucose levels, thereby facilitating treatment adjustments to achieve long-term better glucose control.
  • One of the best things about glucometers is that they can help you understand your body better and plan for the future.
  • With access to trend screen views featuring graphs of your current, past and projected future glucose levels, it is easy to understand how certain lifestyle choices can impact your sugar levels.

Monitoring can change the current scenario

More than any other disease, diabetes needs to be carefully monitored and cared for lifelong by the afflicted themselves. In this context, the role played by a glucometer becomes crucial. Blood glucose test strips play a crucial role in helping you to monitor your daily blood glucose level and giving your doctor the data to adjust your medication to control your diabetes symptoms.

How can this lead to a diabetes revolution?

Imagine every doctor starts keeping a glucometer in his/her clinic just as they now keep a weighing machine or a blood pressure machine

(sphygmomanometer). Just imagine the number of new cases which can be detected in the early stages. This means that the recent growth that we are witnessing in number of diabetics will start showing a downward trend, which is exactly what we need.

In terms of the doctors’ community, it will become easier to diagnose, screen, monitor and treat. It’s simple that the costs are low, patients will have no qualms about testing and once the testing becomes regular, the treatment becomes easier.

Another benefit for doctors would be its impact on treatment of highly complicated patients who need to test three to four times a day; it will help them in a big way for better management, and the doctor can calculate the target range for your blood glucose.

It also enhances patient empowerment and patient education regarding the effects of lifestyle and pharmaceutical intervention on glycemic control. Now many newer systems have come with software that allows the user to download meter results to a computer/mobile. This information can then be utilised, together with a doctor’s guidance, to improve and enhance diabetes management.

The need of the hour

Looking at the above, it is the need of the hour to make it mandatory for every doctor to keep a glucometer in the clinic.

“Monitoring is the key to treatment; early detection can even help you reverse your condition.  Also early screening and detection helps prevent complications/ detect such complications in early stage so that long-term problems can be avoided.”

Dr Pradeep Gadge is a Diabetologist at Gadge Diabetes Centre

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