Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Mar 3, 2020

Advances in glucose monitors

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor



Although finger pricks remain the gold standard for blood sugar monitoring, researchers are developing products designed to take the “ouch” out of the process. Ask your doctor about these alternatives.

Flash glucose monitor

Your doctor inserts a small wire equipped with a sensor below your skin on the upper arm. The sensor continuously measures and monitors glucose levels. You wave a small mobile reader near the sensor to check your glucose levels. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017, the device doesn’t eliminate the need for finger prick testing, but can sharply reduce it. Readings are available only when you check them. The device needs to be replaced after 14 days.

Alternative site monitor

Allows blood samples from areas likely to be less painful than your finger, such as your arm, the palm of your hand or your thigh. It’s not as accurate as fingertip samples when blood sugar level is rising or falling quickly.

Continuous glucose testing

Uses a sensor placed under the skin to measure blood sugar level. Each reading is transmitted to a small recording device worn on your body. An alarm sounds if your blood sugar level becomes too low or too high. These are expensive and requires a sensor to be replaced every three to seven days, depending on the brand. You must check your blood sugar level with a traditional monitor to confirm readings and to program the device.

Share your experience in using these new devices at the diabetes support group.

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