It is possible to monitor your blood sugar levels and run tests to see if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Here is how they function.
Diabetes at-home testing, which assess your A1c, can assist find people who have diabetes but are unaware of it or who have prediabetes. They can be helpful in overseeing diabetes patients’ medication regimens.
Mail-in or point-of-care testing are the two varieties that are offered. Susan Renda, nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, urges you to call your healthcare physician to go through the results and create a plan for the future, regardless of the test type you use or the findings.
What Do Diabetes Home Tests Entail?
Red blood cells contain a protein called haemoglobin, which delivers sugar through the bloodstream. Haemoglobin has sugar bonded to it in everyone, although the amount varies at home diabetes test. More sugar has bonded to haemoglobin as a result of a greater blood sugar level.
Your haemoglobin A1c, or A1c, is measured by at-home diabetes tests. The percentage of red blood cells with haemoglobin that is coated in sugar is shown by this measurement. Renda describes it as your “red blood cell tells a story about the sugar around it.”
Your A1c is the mean blood sugar level over the previous two to three months. This kind of test is helpful for identifying individuals who are at risk for getting diabetes or who already have the disease but are unaware of it.
A1c levels should be less than 5.7%. A1c values more than 6.5% are indicative of diabetes, while those between 5.7% and 6.4% are indicative of prediabetes.
For those with diabetes, at-home testing are fantastic. They can assess the effectiveness of their diabetic treatment plan. Your A1c should not be used everyday to modify treatment programmes because it typically lasts for two to three months. For that, use your glucometer.
A1c levels are often checked twice to three times a year by diabetics. Although everyone has a different A1c target, problems from diabetes are more likely to occur if your A1c is higher than 7%.
Diabetes Tests at Home: Types
Diabetes home tests come in two varieties:
- Test kit mail-ins. You supply a finger-prick blood sample for these kits and mail it to the lab specified in the kit.
- Kits for point-of-care. The A1c analyser that is included in these test kits may resemble a glucometer. Your findings from a finger-prick blood sample will appear on the analyzer in five minutes.
Both of these diabetes home test kits are available for purchase online or at pharmacies. There are minor variations in terms of cost, results return time, and usability.
Who Should Utilise Home Diabetes Tests?
Renda said that persons who are feeling great but have risk factors for developing diabetes should think about testing because many Americans are unaware that they have prediabetes or diabetes.
As an illustration, she said, “Perhaps you attend a family reunion and while listening to everyone, you learn that almost half your relatives have diabetes. You then say, “Well, I feel OK.” I haven’t actually been checked recently, but I’m quite interested.
Renda clarified that diabetes can be detected with routine care, such as visiting the dentist or having your eyes examined. However, diabetes home testing may also be useful for those without access to primary care or other types of healthcare.
When Is It Time to Test Your Blood Sugar?
Depending on your type of diabetes and whether you take medication to treat it, you should test your blood sugar at specific intervals. The frequency of your tests will be determined with assistance from your healthcare practitioner. Typically, blood sugar is measured:
- In the morning, before to eating or drinking anything
- Before bed
Even if you are symptom-free, you should still check your blood sugar if you have any reason to believe it may be excessively high or low. The glucometer is the finest tool to use when testing your blood sugar at home.
Blood sugar monitors, also known as glucometers, are excellent for checking your blood sugar at home during the day. They provide real-time data on how effectively you are managing your blood sugar levels.
You may have seen that eating particular foods makes your blood sugar spike, or that skipping lunch makes it too low. By adjusting your treatment strategy in light of this information, you and your healthcare practitioner can prevent hyper- and hypoglycemia.
To show your doctor when you have appointments, keep a record of your readings along with the time they were taken on paper, on an app on your phone, or kept in your glucometer.
How Can Home Blood Sugar Tests Be Affected?
Whichever one you choose, be sure to read the included directions. The first step to acquiring a precise reading is knowing how to use it. Additional elements that may impact the outcomes include:
- Using test strips that have been mishandled during storage. The lifespan of the test strips is shortened when they are kept in hot or humid environments. After each usage, seal the test-strip vial to help avoid this.
- Failure to wash your hands before a test. A false high reading can be avoided by washing your hands with warm, soapy water after handling food contaminants like cookies or candy.
- The circulation to your skin can be lowered when you’re cold. While most people take blood from their fingers, other people may take it from a different spot, such their forearm. Your results may not be as accurate if your body is cold if you’re using an other test location.
- Issues relating to the metre. On your metre, you could see error messages. Contact the manufacturer for assistance in troubleshooting if you receive an error message.
How to Run a Test at Home
Before testing, be sure to read the directions because every test kit is unique. You can watch videos that some businesses may have posted on their websites that demonstrate how to utilise the kit.
All necessary supplies will be included in mail-in test kits. Depending on the kit, the contents will vary, but generally speaking, they include:
- A blood collection tube or card
- A biohazard bag
- Alcohol wipes
- A mailing label.
Before drawing your blood, complete the relevant fields on the blood collection card, tube, and biohazard bag. After cleaning it with alcohol and allowing it to dry, pierce it with the lancet instrument.
Kits for Point-of-Care
Kits for point-of-care testing will include:
- a shaker,
- an A1c analyser,
- a blood collecting device
Prick your finger with the lancet. Following the instructions for shaking your sample and placing it on the A1c analyzer, take a blood sample as directed. Within five minutes, you’ll have your outcomes.
What Has an Impact on Accuracy?
Renda clarified that accuracy can be impacted by particular circumstances. For instance, “if someone has a blood disorder, it’s not going to be as accurate.” The following conditions can also have an impact on A1c results:
- Serious anaemia
- Liver illness
- Kidney dysfunction
- Specific medicines
- Blood loss or transfusions
- A recent or past pregnancy
Before conducting the test, Renda advised confirming the kit’s expiration date. The accuracy of your results may be impacted by using an outdated kit. Accuracy can also be impacted by inability to do the necessary technical activities or a lack of understanding of how to finish each test phase.
Knowing Your Blood Sugar Levels Is Important
Your blood sugar level will change throughout the day depending on what you eat and how active you are. According to the CDC, a normal blood sugar range should be less than 180 mg/dL two hours after a meal and between 80 and 130 mg/dL before a meal.
You run the risk of developing hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia when your blood sugar levels go outside of the normal range.
When your blood sugar level is excessively high, either from having insufficient insulin or from your body not responding to it as it should (a condition known as insulin resistance), you have hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia can be brought on by stress, illness, and particular eating choices. Symptoms of having too much blood sugar include:
- Cloudy eyesight;
- A greater urge to urinate
- Feeling extremely fatigued or thirsty
- Having constant hunger despite having eaten
- Infections that are not healing or are healing slowly
- Loss of weight
When to Always Call Your Healthcare Professional With Your Home Test Results.
Advises Renda Changing one’s lifestyle may still be able to help avoid diabetes in the future.