What is a Glucose Machine?

Malcolm Tatum

More commonly known as a glucose monitor or glucose meter, the glucose machine is a device that is used to determine the current level of glucose present in the blood. This device is widely used by people with Type I and Type II diabetes as a means of monitoring blood glucose levels after consuming food or engaging in some type of physical exercise. Many health insurance plans today help to defray the cost of purchasing a glucose machine and the glucose test supplies that are required for the proper operation of the device.

A person checking her blood glucose levels.
A person checking her blood glucose levels.

The typical glucose machine of today is a user-friendly device that requires little effort to operate. In size, today’s meters are usually smaller than the average cell phone, making them very easy to carry in a purse or computer bag. The devices utilize batteries as a power source. Along with the meter itself, test strips and coding chips are necessary to get an accurate reading of current glucose levels. Some recent brands of the glucose machine do not require manual coding at all.

A lancet is typically used to make a print in a finger before using a glucose machine.
A lancet is typically used to make a print in a finger before using a glucose machine.

The glucose machine is activated and a single test strip is inserted with one end of the strip protruding from the machine. After wiping the finger with an alcohol swab and allowing the alcohol to dry slightly, the finger is jabbed with a small lancet. The blood from the small wound is applied to the end of the test strip, allowing the meter to analyze the glucose content of the blood sample. In a matter of seconds, the machine provides a reading of the current glucose level.

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A modern glucose machine has several advantages over blood sugar monitoring devices of years past. The sample of blood required to run the test is minuscule in comparison to the sample required with equipment offered during the 1980’s. Coding is a much easier process today, with most meters requiring nothing more than the insertion of a coding chip each time a new bottle of test strips is purchased. Coding fluid applied as part of regular maintenance, usually at the point when the new set of test strips is first used, helps to keep the machine in proper working order.

Regular use of a glucose machine helps diabetics to make sure blood sugar levels are remaining in a range that is considered healthy. While slightly different ways of evaluating the results of the glucose test vary from one country to another, most set an acceptable range for glucose levels at the one hour two hours points after consuming food. For example, in the United States, a blood glucose reading that is below 180 one hour after a meal is considered acceptable. Two hours after a meal, the reading must be below 140 in order to be considered within range.

Ideally, diabetics who control their condition using diet will try to eat balanced meals that include small amounts of complex carbohydrates, no simple carbohydrates, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. They also attempt to include at least thirty minutes of exercise in their daily routine. By using a glucose machine to monitor their progress, it is possible to determine what impact the exercise has on blood sugar levels, as well as identify what foods cause the glucose level to go outside of the acceptable range. From this perspective, the meter is invaluable as a tool for learning how to manage diabetes by making lifestyle and dietary changes.

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