Jab-Free Diabetes Test Shows Major Promise in UK
One of the most frustrating aspects of managing a lifestyle with diabetes—whether Type 1 Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes—is the need to consistently and frequently monitor blood-glucose levels. While monitors such as the Prodigy auto code or the FreeStyle diabetes test, along with many others, have tried to make the daily necessity as pain-free as possible, and technology has advanced to use smaller and smaller samples and more accurate results, the fact is that diabetics still have to endure multiple ‘jabs’ per day; an advance in the United Kingdom may, however, make that dreary fact a thing of the past. There is still extensive testing to be done to make sure of the new gadget’s effectiveness, but promising results are beginning to come in already. Doctors are particularly excited about the possibility of a jab-free diabetes test for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that a major factor in successful diabetes management is patient adherence.
A New Kind of Diabetes Test
A small stick-on sensor, the size of a coin, is the hoped-for replacement for the many-times-daily jabs that diabetic patients endure. The sensor is worn at the back of the upper arm, and monitors glucose levels over the course of 14 days, and provides the information for the patient on a pager-sized reader that comes with the device. Not only can the patient receive information on their blood-glucose levels multiple times per day without having to use a lancet to collect blood, but the information can also be downloaded to give doctors a two-week history of blood sugar levels—vital information when evaluating treatment and making decisions about moving forward with diabetes management tactics.
While existing devices such as the Prodigy auto code and the FreeStyle diabetes test are extremely effective in monitoring the blood-glucose levels of patients, the pain involved in obtaining a blood sample leads to many patients—particularly the very young—avoiding the test, and missing out on vital information about their health. Last month, Dr. Gerry Rayman started an advanced trial of the new device. He said of the previous method, “Finger-pricking is a hassle and can be embarrassing. Many people forget to do it so don’t have a complete picture of their condition. Failing to control long-term, diabetes can cause diabetic retinopathy, renal failure and foot complications that can lead to amputation.”
What Are the Benefits of the New Diabetes Test?
Another benefit of the sensor over the older methods of blood-glucose testing is that it will provide a more consistent portrait of tendencies; according to Dr. Rayman, most patients test intermittently and at variable times—typically only when they feel the “need” to test (if they feel as though their blood-glucose levels are particularly high or low). This can be difficult for people who don’t feel the symptoms of high blood-glucose levels. By using a sensor that is attached to the body for several days at a time, a more accurate picture of highs and lows can be used in treatment. While all diabetes patients are at risk for health problems, and unforeseen circumstances such as illness or stress can cause fluctuations that can’t be prevented, most doctors would recommend that diabetics keep their blood-glucose levels in as strict control as possible—avoiding both peaks and valleys. If the sensor being tested in the UK lives up to its promise, it could lead to a much less uncomfortable—and much more detailed—way of monitoring blood-glucose levels in patients of all ages.
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