how to detect diabetes without blood test
Metabolic Health
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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.

Process Of Checking Blood Sugar Without Pricking With CGM

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are devices that examine the levels of sugar in the blood continuously at predetermined intervals. Individuals do not have to prick their fingers in order to determine their blood sugar levels; nevertheless, pricked fingers may be necessary in order to calibrate the device.

In order to check for glucose in interstitial fluid and other tissues, a person has to insert the CGM sensor beneath the skin of the upper arm, belly, buttocks, or thighs before beginning the test. This fluid is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells as well as assisting the cells in the removal of waste products.

CGM devices are able to do glucose level checks at 5-minute intervals. They come packaged with a sensor, transmitters, and receivers or display units that are capable of sending periodic reports, real-time data to an application or linked device, or any mix of the two. In addition, the price of each individual component varies, and it's possible that a person may need to change the sensors and transmitters on a regular basis.

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.

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.
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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.

List Of Most Famous CGMs

People with diabetes often need to check their blood sugar levels throughout the day for which they use certain electronic devices such as glucometers of various different types. One of the most common types of blood sugar monitoring devices is the continuous glucose monitoring device which is a blood sugar monitor without finger pricks and is extremely useful. Here is a list of the most popular CGMs that you can use to test blood sugar without pricking your finger. Read more to know about glucometer price.

Freestyle libre

There is no need for finger-pricking for blood samples in the freestyle libre. This meter, on the other hand, measures glucose from interstitial fluids present directly under the skin. The FreeStyle Libre works with a sensor that you wear on the back of your upper arm and change every 14 days. You wave the monitor in front of the sensor to read your glucose levels. It is advised that you repeat the procedure multiple times each day. As an alternative to the monitor, you may scan with your phone (through an app that comes with the Freestyle Libre). The original Libre system does not have alerts to notify you when your blood sugar levels are too low or too high. These functions, however, are available in the Libre 2 system. While the Libre is aimed towards adults, the Libre 2 may be appropriate for youngsters. It is worth noting that the Libre 3 system is now certified for use by people with diabetes in Europe. While customers like the ability to monitor their blood glucose levels without using finger pricks, there have been instances of erroneous results. When using the sensor, you may encounter skin discomfort.

Eversense CGM

Eversense works by implanting a microscopic sensor in your skin and wearing a transmitter on top. This is often administered to the upper arm. Every 5 minutes, it monitors the glucose in your interstitial fluids and transmits the results to your smartphone. The sensor may last for up to 90 days. Unlike the FreeStyle Libre, the Eversense must be set up at your doctor's office, where the subcutaneous device will be inserted for you. This might be a concern if you are unable to visit your doctor every 90 days. The Eversense CGM is said to be sensitive to direct sunlight. This is a vital factor to discuss with your doctor before deciding on the best insertion location.

Dexcom G6

The Dexcom G6 is designed to interact with various diabetic equipment such as insulin pumps, dosing meters, and others. This CGM is intended for persons above the age of two. The Dexcom G6 is made up of a sensor that you wear just under the surface of your skin in your abdomen. It has a 10-day battery life and is water resistant. Every 5 minutes, the sensor sends your glucose data to a smart device, such as a phone, watch, or tablet. Users have reported reliable findings with the Dexcom G6, however they resent having to replace the sensor every 10 days.

Guardian connect system

A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) called the Guardian Connect System is produced by Medtronic, a firm that also manufactures insulin pumps. The system operates in a manner that is similar to that of the Dexcom G6 in that you will be required to wear a sensor on your belly in conjunction with a transmitter, which will then send your glucose readings to a smart device at regular intervals of five minutes. In a manner similar to that of the FreeStyle Libre, this gadget may also be worn on the arm. The Guardian Connect, in contrast to other continuous glucose monitors, places an emphasis on "time in range" data, which provides users with a clearer picture of how long they remain within their optimum glucose levels at a given moment. However, the Guardian Connect is restricted to users who are at least 14 years old in order to comply with safety regulations.

D-Base

D-Base is a new kind of CGM that measures blood sugar levels using heat. DiaMonTech, a German firm, invented it. The cutting-edge device beams an infrared laser into the skin, forcing glucose in the skin to convert the light to heat. The amount of heat risen in the skin is then used to calculate the findings. It was proven to be as accurate as test strips in preclinical experiments. The size of the D-Base model is a significant disadvantage. It's a stationary shoebox-sized piece of equipment that's tough to transport. It is also not yet available for purchase. This and many other glucose devices produced by the business, such as a D-Sensor that will be placed in watches or fitness bands, are still in the works.

A sugar blood test is the most common way of determining the glucose levels in the body. For this purpose, using a sugar testing machine without blood samples gives the most accurate results.

Also read about uses and side effects of sugar tablet

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.

Does CGM give accurate data?

Yes, in the majority of clinical scenarios, CGMs provide accurate readings. What is measured, how often measurements are done, when they are collected, and how the information is evaluated all affect how CGM findings are interpreted. 

What type of data CGM gathers?

On the other hand, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) gathers glucose readings constantly throughout the day and night, whether the patient is awake or asleep. It identifies bouts of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia as well as trends and records patterns in blood glucose levels.

Does prickless blood sugar monitor the same as CGM?

Yes, prickless blood sugar monitors are the same as CGM. 

List of methods testing diabetes without blood

Testing for diabetes without giving a blood sample can be done by a continuous glucose monitoring device or a CGM. Instead of pricking one’s finger, you can simply use a CGM which is a tiny sensor inserted underneath your skin to measure blood sugar. 

References

  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/blood-sugar-monitor-without-finger-pricks#who-should-use-them
  • https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/blood-sugar-monitor-without-finger-pricks

Disclaimer

This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.