When self-testing of blood glucose was developed around 1980, it was the first huge advance in T1DM treatment since the isolation of insulin. Previously, glucose testing was done with urine specimens, but this method didn't produce accurate or helpful results because glucose generally doesn't enter the urine until the blood glucose is over 180 mg/dl. By that standard, a patient with T1DM may never show glucose in the urine and still suffer complications of diabetes!
All the thousands of research papers in the medical literature before 1980 that used urine testing for glucose are of no value and should be burned. (However, testing the urine for other things, such as ketones and protein, can be of value. See the earlier section microalbuminuria and the nearby sidebar on ketones for more information.)
The new method of testing blood glucose revealed some valuable information. Following is just a sampling:
1 Under what seem like the exact same conditions, the blood glucose may be very different from time to time. It's impossible to control many of the variables involved in testing, like the depth of the insulin injection or the emotional state of the patient at the time. Little differences in carbohydrate intake, taking fiber with food, and so forth also can make a big difference in the reading. It isn't an exact science. Because it isn't an exact science, blaming a child for poor blood glucose levels is ridiculous.
1 When blood glucose levels could be downloaded to a computer, it was seen that, for the most part, patients had been reporting them honestly in their logbooks. You see, many doctors thought that their patients weren't recording their results honestly, causing them (the docs) to pay less attention to patient logbooks of glucose results.
1 The approximate response of blood glucose to exercise and to food can be gauged.
1 It's possible to see if a child's blood glucose is going too low (or too high) in the middle of the night.
In the following sections, I explain how often to test blood glucose and walk you through the testing process. See the later section "Selecting a Home Blood Glucose Meter" for details on a variety of meters available.
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Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...