No More Finger Pricks for Some With Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, chances are you prick your finger once a day or so to check your blood sugar.
But a growing body of evidence shows that for most type 2 diabetes patients, routinely tracking your blood sugar, or glucose, doesn’t make any difference for your health.
The exception is patients taking insulin or a sulfonylurea drug such as glipizide (which goes by the brand name Glucotrol) or glimepiride (Amaryl), which stimulates beta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin. That’s according to Dr. Jack Ende, president of the American College of Physicians, a professional organization of internal medicine specialists.
Both insulin and the sulfonylureas can lead to hypoglycemia, or too-low blood sugar, so it’s important to perform self-monitoring, said Ende, an assistant dean at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
Good News for Many with Diabetes
“If you’re diet-controlled alone, or you’re just on metformin (a widely prescribed diabetes medication), which does not cause hypoglycemia, and you’re not interested in testing, there’s really no reason to do it,” he said. “It’s expensive [test strips alone cost around $1 each]. It’s burdensome.”
But, Ende said, he has some patients who, even though they’re controlling their blood sugar by diet alone, continue to prick their finger regularly to check their glucose.
Some health-care providers think self-testing makes patients feel empowered, thus enhancing their motivation to maintain control of their blood sugar.
— Dr. Laura Young, University of Nort Continue reading