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Diabetes Health Center

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Accurate Blood Sugar Readings Are at Your Fingertips


In Alexander's research, forearm testing was most likely to be inaccurate during the two hours after eating a meal, and there was no consistency as to whether the forearm reading was lower or higher than the finger prick reading. He is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

So, should you throw away your forearm blood testing device? Absolutely not! Both Alexander and Koschinsky agree that they can be used as long as it's not a potential emergency situation. So, you might want to stick to a finger prick device if you're about to drive a long distance or if you feel you are developing low blood sugar, which is a potentially dangerous condition called hypoglycemia. Alexander also says you might also want to use a finger prick device during the two hours after a meal.

Furthermore, Claresa S. Levetan, MD, director of diabetes education at MedStar Health/Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center says that encouraging people with diabetes to take regular readings, which is more likely to happen with a less painful forearm device than a painful finger prick one, is more important than ensuring that every reading is 100% accurate. She explains that the real goal of testing blood sugar is to look at general trends, not detect potentially emergency situations like hypoglycemia.

"If you suspect that you're dramatically low, none of the meters are very good at reading the very low end," she says. So, someone who suspects they have hypoglycemia should eat some food containing sugar to be on the safe side.

No matter what device you choose, the most important thing is to use it properly. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you each step exactly. According to Levetan, "most studies have shown that people who are doing home glucose monitoring don't do everything properly."

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