Maintaining your diabetes means that you need to make sure your blood sugar is always within the normal range..why? because you don’t want any complications..complications that can change your life FOREVER!
As the rise in the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes comes also the rise of different blood sugar monitoring. Different kinds, brands, styles, and purpose are all in the market..it’s just up to you which one to choose from. But which is really the best one? Is there any reference as to which one to choose and use to maintain your blood sugar at range?
Blood sugar monitoring device is one of the most important tool that a diabetic needs to have. This will help make sure that the foods we eat, the medication we took, and the lifestyle we have all coincide with the blood sugar we have. This will also provide us information as to how much insulin we need to give ourselves and if we need to do immediate action because of our sugar.
As a diabetic myself, I have tried different brands and styles of blood sugar monitoring..some are perfect but some are just fine…but with all these meters, there is only one that I still used until now-the Accu-Chek Aviva Expert. Why I use it and how? Let me explain to you the reasons…
Why blood sugar monitoring is needed?
For a person with diabetes, everything that you do, either eating a healthy diet or doing some exercise or taking your medications, these all have one purpose/objective-that is to control your blood sugar levels. But how can you make sure that you are really controlling your blood sugar at the normal range?
Most people I have met and known, they told me that in terms of controlling their blood sugar, they rely on how they feel. How do they do that? Well, they say that they mostly based it on the symptoms they have. If a person feels too tired or too thirsty or has a headache, then they know that their sugar is high. If they feel dizzy, or trembling or having cold sweats, then they say that they have low blood sugar. Basing your blood sugar in your symptoms is very unreliable and very dangerous… Most of the time a person with diabetes does not know if he/she is having highs or lows in blood sugar, and with constant elevations of blood sugar can cause a lot of complications.
With the advent of blood sugar devices now-a-days allows you to track your blood sugar that is more accurate than just relying on your symptoms only. As part of one’s diabetes management, there are two methods that needs to be part of the management plan:
- Self-monitoring of blood glucose, or SMBG. You are the one to test your own blood sugar at home or anywhere using a monitoring device.
- Doing a regular check-up with your doctor for a more comprehensive tests, especially the Hemoglobin A1c test where you can see the pattern of your sugar for the last 3 months.
But why do we need to do all of these? Simple, because we are after the crucial information that these tests will provide…and the more precise the result, the better. If you know how your blood sugar behaves in certain instances and the effect of it in your health, then the more control you have in your sugar levels and in your health and overall well-being. Without any information about your sugar levels makes you feel like your walking in pitch darkness without flashlight…you do not have any idea if you are heading off course. Frequent monitoring of blood sugar and doing your regular checkups gives light to your diabetes, giving you a clear understanding about this illness and allowing you to make the right decisions with more confidence and freedom.
Important Testing Tools…the essentials
- Test strips. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I can still remember that they have used a glucose meter using a test strip that gives result by changing its colors, then you need to compare it to the color chart for your result. Yes, you heard it right..it changes colors. There is this color chart in the vial where you can just compare to the color result in your test strip, then each color corresponds to a certain range.
The first self-monitoring tests appear during the 1970s and they consisted of test strips that changes color to provide results. The first diabetes test strips used changes colors due to the chemical reaction between the chemicals in your blood and on the strip. It uses an enzyme to convert sample blood sugar into proportional amount of dye sample. It then is analyzed in a meter the amount of dye present by shining a ray of light into the test spot to determine the amount of light that is absorbed by the dye.
This kind of color-match monitoring device is still available but there are numerous devices to choose from that is less complicated and easier to use in your day-to-day monitoring. The test strip technology greatly evolved as time past. The combination of electrochemistry and test strip technology in the year 1990s has become the advent of the modernized test strips usage.
- Glucose Meters. Blood glucose meter or sometimes called as “glucometer” is a device to check your blood sugar that is usually done before or after eating a meal. There are a lot of meters that is already out in the market. Which one to choose all depends on the type and features that the meter can offer the user, like the insurance coverage, cost of test strips for the meter used, easy usage, support/help assistance, and other special features.
Blood sugar check is also done when you do your regular visit to your doctor. Most of the time, meters used in your doctor’s office to check for you blood sugar is very different from those home blood glucose meters, making the readings with home-used meters around 10-15 percent lower than the one used in your doctor’s clinic.
Most are wondering…why there is a difference? It’s all because for meters used at home, blood used to measure sugar is whole blood-meaning that this is an unprocessed and went straight from the body to the test strip. Whole bloods consists of different ingredients which includes plasma (a fluid) and red blood cells.
Blood drawn in your doctor’s office usually separate these elements and it only tests the plasma for blood sugar readings. Blood sugar tends to be a little more concentrated in plasma compared to whole blood,
Glucose meters vary in different features, Some meters come in different sizes and shapes, some talks, some has download capability, some has no code to use, some can calculate the insulin you need to give yourself based on the amount of carbohydrates to eat, and some meters are free-you just need to buy the strips.
Some brands we see in the market are:
- Accu-Chek (Roche Diagnostics)
- One Touch Ultra (made by LifeScan)
- Freestyle (Abbott)
- Contour (Bayer)
- ReliOn (Walmart)
- Lancets. These are the sharp instruments that punctures the skin. The handheld unit that holds the lancet is called the lancing device. Lancets are used only once and are disposable since it gets dull after using and for sanitary reasons. Never use somebody else’s lancet.
Many glucometers come already with a lancing device and sometimes few pieces of the lancet. Most of the time, you can just use a lancet to prick your finger…but using a lancing device will not only be less painful, it is easier to manipulate with either hand. You want to know why? ..because lancing devices are spring-loaded so that the penetration is very quick. Lancing device has adjustment in the depth of penetration, this will depend on the skin you have or how thick your callus may be (..that is if you have one).
There are different kinds of lancets. The universal lancet, most common, of different brands but almost the same style (..except for the color), is the one that can be used in most of the lancing device. There is also the one called Softclix that has thin-gauge lancet for easy and smoother entry, and FastClix that has like a drum of 6 preloaded lancets.
- Logbook. Most of the glucometers has a logbook included where you can record your results so you can track the patterns of your blood sugar levels. Some doctors provide a logbook for you if you are having difficulty using the one included with your machine.
Bring your logbook every time you go for your scheduled visit with the doctor to provide valuable information or clues if by chance there was anything unusual happening to you prior to your doctor’s visit.
Remember, the most important thing in using a logbook is to get your numbers written down on papers including the date and time of each reading. The reason is that you are looking for patterns and association. This logbook will be sort of like your investigative report on everything you did for that entire day so write down anything unusual for that day-what you eat, how much exercise, if you feel sick, or if you are under in a lot of stress. These will serve as your vital observations that even a good meter cannot record.
Accu-Chek Aviva Expert…why is it different?
Accu-chek Aviva Expert is the first stand-alone meter with a built-in insulin calculator. This kind of meter helps you calculate the exact units of insulin that you will need based on your blood sugar reading and the amount of carbohydrates that you will eat…pretty cool, right?
This is different from the other brands as this do the calculations that most people are dreaded to do, so less of the worries that you are giving too low or too high units of insulin. In the survey conducted by Roche to the Accu-chek aviva expert users, almost 80% said that they are more confident now with their insulin calculations after using the Aviva expert. and a little higher than 50% said that they are less worried about low blood sugar levels.
This is one of the many blood glucose meters that is out of the market, but not all diabetics can have this. Due to its advanced technology, the Aviva Expert usually is prescribed only by participating doctors. You need a prescription to avail of this kind of meter.
How to use the Aviva Expert?
Using this meter is really not that difficult, and most of the time your doctors or healthcare professionals can assist you in setting up your machine. In these pictures, we will show you easy steps on how to use the Accu-chek Aviva Expert. This is also more convenient to your doctors as they will just Bluetooth your numbers and then your records are in their system already.
Before you do anything, you need to wash your hands first prior to and after checking your blood sugar.
Insert the test strip into the Accu-chek Aviva Expert meter.
Using your lancing device, prick your finger to get some blood. Prior to pricking your finger, try to massage that finger first so that blood will be easier to go out and there’s no need to squeeze further your finger after pricking. Try to prick on the side of the finger than on the tip of the finger…why? There are more free-nerve endings (these are nerve fibers that function to detect pain) on the tip..meaning it is more painful on the tip than on the side.
Apply the blood on to the test strip to check your blood sugar.
Once blood sugar reading appears, you need to put in the amount of carbohydrates you are going to eat. You cal also type in the time of meal-breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Once everything is written, press okay.
Next is that you need to confirm the bolus advice or the insulin that you are about to give yourself.
Meter is going to ask you to confirm again the amount of insulin you are about to inject, just press okay.
After this, you can now inject the correct units of insulin the meter has given you.
Checking blood sugar should not be that complicated. There are many kinds of meters that is being sold today. There are also different ways on how to give yourself insulin. Some doctors still opt to choose a sliding scale or meaning that with the blood sugar you got, there is a range of numbers that if your blood sugar is in that range then you need to give a certain number of units of insulin to cover for that reading. This is mostly seen in hospitals.
If you are having problems with your blood sugar and need some assistance in calculating you insulin, you can ask your doctor about the brand that does it for you.
All blood glucose meters will be of big help in controlling your blood sugar levels and preventing complications that comes with it. It all depends on you on which one you are most comfortable to use. I have been using this Accu-chek Aviva Expert meter for some time now and it gave me a big difference in my diabetes management. As they say, this will “help you enjoy the foods you eat without worrying about the math”.
We’re hoping that this has helped in some way. If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section and we will be more than happy to help you out as much as we can.
Categorised in: Product Review
All the best,
Jacy and Ryan (TMD Team)