Blood Glucose Testing: Less Pain, More to Gain

Yvette C. Terrie, BSPharm, RPh
Published Online: Tuesday, February 1, 2005

This patient education is brought to you by Roche.

The goal of managing diabetes is to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Doing so will prevent further progression of the complications associated with diabetes. You can often achieve this goal with medicines, lifestyle changes (such as diet and exercise), and consistent and frequent monitoring of your blood sugar. You can proactively decrease the number of sugar "highs"and "lows"you have by timely self-monitoring.

When you monitor your blood glucose frequently, you may experience pain and discomfort. This pain can keep you from taking your blood samples. There are, however, steps that you can follow to prevent or reduce the pain associated with blood glucose testing:

  • Consult your health care provider about selecting a glucose monitor that allows you to test at other sites besides the sensitive fingers—such as the palm of the hand
  • Always use a new lancet for each test
  • Try to use lancets that are polished and silicone-coated
  • Select a lancet device that is cam-driven to prevent side-to-side motion and unnecessary tearing of the skin
  • Choose lancet devices that allow you to adjust the depth settings to your own comfort level
  • Rotate the testing sites to reduce the incidence of bruising or soreness
  • Prior to testing, warm up the test site by cleaning the area with warm soapy water
  • Rub or massage the site area to ensure that an adequate amount of blood is at the surface
  • Try to obtain blood samples from the sides of the fingers, which are less sensitive than the tips (you also may help reduce or eliminate calluses)
  • To prevent dryness and cracking of the skin, always apply lotion that is alcohol-and fragrance- free after testing

Selecting a Glucose Meter

Real or perceived physical pain is the key reason why many people with diabetes do not consistently check their blood glucose levels. There are, however, other "pains"associated with blood glucose testing. It may be difficult to obtain an adequate blood sample for testing on the first try. The testing procedure may be inconvenient if it involves a multistep procedure to prepare the meter. It also may take time to obtain a result and interpret it. When selecting a glucose meter, patients should look for the following key features:

  • A meter that is easy to use, allowing for a successful test the first time it is out of the box
  • A meter that does not require coding so as to minimize confusion when starting a new vial of strips
  • A system that requires a small amount of blood to get an accurate reading
  • A system that provides accurate results quickly, minimizing interference with day-to-day activities
  • A meter with integrated strips, eliminating the need to carry a vial of strips when leaving the house
  • A system that allows for alternate testing sites, such as the palm, for less painful testing

Fortunately, in recent years many advances have been made with regard to glucose meters. The new meters make living with and managing diabetes a little easier and hassle-free.

An example is the ACCU-CHEK® Compact® System, one of the newest members of the ACCU-CHEK line of meters manufactured by Roche Diagnostics. It does not require coding. It requires only a small sample of blood for a fast (8-second) test. An automated drum contains 17 test strips inside the device, so that you do not have to struggle with handling the vial and strips each time. These strips are dispensed automatically by simply pushing a single button. This feature provides both convenience and flexibility for all blood glucose testers. It is especially helpful for those who have problems with fine motor skills. The ACCUCHEK Compact System is approved for alternate site testing at up to 6 different sites, including the palm of the hand.

Advances in the manufacturing of lancets and lancet devices make it less painful to obtain a blood sample. The ACCU-CHEK® Softclix® lancet device from Roche Diagnostics uses cam-driven technology, which minimizes side-to-side movements and prevents unnecessary tearing of the skin. The device has more than 11 depth settings that allow you to choose your own comfort level. Such a system involves less pain. It is a perfect choice for the growing number of children who have diabetes. It also should be helpful for patients using insulin who test more frequently—and for anyone who desires a less painful testing experience.

Taking Control of Your Diabetes

Having diabetes can be both overwhelming and challenging. With proper medication and lifestyle modifications, however, you can control your diabetes and not let it control you.

The most important step to achieving this control is monitoring your blood sugar on a regular basis. With the advances in blood glucose monitors today, you will be able to keep your testing schedule. The new glucose monitoring devices are compact, portable, efficient, and convenient. They allow you to maintain a desirable quality of life and to overcome the struggles of testing. Monitoring your blood sugar will be less painful. With the proper guidance from your health care professional, you can safely manage your blood glucose with less pain and gain control over your diabetes.

Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writer based in Slidell, La.



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