how to detect diabetes without blood test
Metabolic Health

Blood Sugar Monitors Without Finger Pricks

The increased incidence of sedentary lifestyles have brought about a rise in the number of lifestyle diseases. The most common among them is Type 2 diabetes. One of the key factors in managing this disease is to keep a constant tab on one’s blood glucose levels. This involves monitoring of blood sugar levels several times a day and keeping a record of it.

Most devices used to measure blood sugar levels require numerous finger pricks in a day. This is either to obtain the blood sample or calibrate the device. Since most individuals are clueless about how to check diabetes without blood tests, this constant finger pricking turns out to be a discouraging factor. The pain associated with it acts like a deterrent in maintaining proper records of blood sugar levels. In such a scenario, the emergence of blood sugar testing systems, which do not require finger pricking, turns out to be a welcome alternative. Non-invasive methods of blood sugar testing makes managing diabetes a comparatively pain-free experience.

How to Check Diabetes Without Blood Test

For the diagnosis of diabetes, a blood test may be mandatory. But once diagnosed, daily and frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels are required. In such instances, it is possible to check sugar levels in blood in a non-invasive manner. Know more about how to detect diabetes without blood tests, by understanding the way modern, non-invasive devices function.

Continuous Glucose Monitors

These devices keep an automatic track of blood sugar levels throughout the day. They help in determining blood sugar trends and deciding the diet, medicines and exercises accordingly.

How they work

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) use tiny sensors to measure the amount of glucose in blood. The sensor is placed just under the skin, with the help of an adhesive tape. It reads the amount of blood glucose in the interstitial fluid (fluid under the skin) at frequent intervals. The data can be transferred to a smartphone or any other device, using a transmitter. The CGM data can then be downloaded easily. CGMs can also be programmed to sound alerts, in case of too high or too low blood sugar levels.

Benefits

  • It is a revolutionary, non-invasive technique that eliminates the need to constantly finger-prick in order to test blood glucose levels.
  • The alerts for high and low sugar levels are an excellent way to ensure lesser medical emergencies.
  • The data can be downloaded easily and patterns can be generated. This makes it easy to formulate personalised diets and medication and exercise plans for the individual. 
  • The measurement of glucose levels every five minutes or so gives a clearer picture about the condition and its management.

Drawbacks

  • It takes some time to get used to handling CGMs.
  • The sensors need to be changed every 7 to 14 days. Scars may appear on the skin because of frequent removal and insertion of sensors.
  • It is slightly more expensive than glucose meters.
  • The continuous stream of data and readings may be mentally taxing.
  • The technology is not yet perfect to yield 100% accuracy in the readings. 
  • CGMs may, at times, take half an hour longer to detect a sudden rise in blood glucose volumes.
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Ear Lobe Tests

Fixing sensors to the earlobes is a novel, non-invasive technique of measuring blood glucose levels. The ear lobe is rich in capillaries, with a steady rate of blood flow. The absence of bones and negligible amounts of fats on the cartilaginous ear lobes are excellent factors to ensure an accurate reading.

How they work

The sensor is attached to the ear lobes. Combining ultrasound, electromagnetic and thermal technologies with physiological parameters, the blood sugar readings are transmitted to your smartphone through wireless networks.

Benefits

  • Ear clip has to be replaced only once in six months.
  • It provides a constant track of blood sugar levels, without the necessity of finger pricking.
  • Ear lobes are an ideal place to connect the sensor as they do not interfere in regular activities.

Drawbacks

  • Ineffective for individuals with Type 1 diabetes.
  • Readings may be affected by wind, temperatures beyond 35 °C and noise.
  • It is expensive.
  • It is a wearable instrument. Hence, it may not be an attractive option to have a bulky device connected to the ear lobe.

Breath Tests

These tests are among the modern, non-invasive methods utilising exhaled breath to assess blood glucose levels. 

How they work

Breath tests make use of a similar technology like that of a breathalyser. Instead of alcohol, these test kits measure the amount of acetone in the exhaled breath. Acetones are volatile compounds that are proven biomarkers for diabetes. Their concentrations in the breath can be used to measure blood glucose volumes.

Benefits

  • It can be performed frequently in a non-invasive manner.
  • Since acetone levels in breath and blood glucose have high correlations, these tests are a good alternative.

Drawbacks

  • It is still not widely accepted, since the technology is under further research.
  • Accuracy may be an issue.

How to Choose a Glucose Monitor

To make the transition from regular glucose meters to non-invasive glucose monitors, one must be thorough about their mechanisms. To know more about how to detect diabetes without blood tests, certain important factors must be considered while selecting the appropriate glucose monitor.

  • Accuracy - It is advisable to check for authenticity in the readings.
  • Alerts and alarm systems - The CGM should have a reliable alarm system to notify patients in events of approaching hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
  • Ease of transferring data - The readings should be easy to transfer between different devices through a wireless network.
  • Convenience of usage - The device should not be too complicated to handle.
  • Cost - It should be economical and cost-effective.
  • Skin reactions - One should check for allergic reactions on the skin, due to the sensors and adhesives used in the glucose monitors.
  • Insurance cover - The medical insurance company has to approve the necessity of using the glucose monitor. Hence, one needs to verify approval and then proceed.
  • Accessories - Check for availability of extra features like prominent display, water-resistance, predictive notifications, data retrieval options, compactness etc. before zeroing in on the product.
  • Approval from federal agencies - The device must be approved for use by agencies like the FDA.

Bottomline

Companies around the world are investing a lot of their resources on researching non-invasive ways to track blood sugar. These methods aim at providing a painless and convenient experience to the users, especially the ones who need to frequently monitor blood sugar levels. Technologies like continuous glucose monitors, ear lobe tests and breath tests are excellent ways of frequently monitoring blood glucose levels, without finger-pricking. However, basic criteria like accuracy, reliability and ease must be considered while selecting the appropriate device.

FAQs

How accurate are non-invasive methods of blood glucose monitoring?

When used correctly, these methods are mostly accurate. But, at times, the device sensors attached on the skin may be misplaced, resulting in faulty readings.

Are glucose monitors and glucose meters the same thing?

No, they are different. A glucose meter measures the blood glucose concentration at a particular time. A glucose monitor keeps a track of blood sugar levels for the entire day. Since it is a wearable device, it constantly monitors the glucose levels in the interstitial fluid.

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