Diabetes a chronic disease is affecting millions of people around the world. The effect of diabetes, high blood glucose and low blood glucose levels are adverse and can affect your health severely if left untreated. Glucose level maintenance can be possible with proper care and attention to diet, exercises and medication. You can find the glucose levels by taking regular glucose tests at the labs or by using self monitoring devices like glucometers. Self monitoring with the blood glucose meter enables you to undertake glucose level tests regularly as per the need. The meters are extremely handy and simple to use which makes it possible for you to test glucose levels anytime whether you are at home, office, school, traveling etc. Manufacturers like Abbott, Accu-chek, Meditronic have introduced several types of finger stick meters that require a little prick on the finger tip for a small drop of blood for the test. Fingertips may experience itchiness or discomfort when the prick is repeated for a long time. Thus companies are trying to develop non invasive blood glucose meter that can make continuous monitoring even simpler.
Non invasive blood glucose meters
Studies and research is being undertaken to develop noninvasive devices that enable continuous monitoring. Research is underway for noninvasive and minimally invasive methods for measuring blood glucose, such as using infrared or near-infrared light, electric currents and ultrasound. One of the noninvasive glucose meters approved by the FDA is the Cygnus GlucoWatch G2 Biographer. It is designed to be worn on the wrist, and draws out body fluid for testing using electric fields. However, it does not replace conventional blood glucose meters in any way. A limitation of the GlucoWatch system is that it is unable to cope with perspiration at the measurement site. It requires that sweat must be allowed to dry before the measurement is done. This and other limitations have caused early demise of the product from the market.
The attempts to use noninvasive blood glucose measurement by spectroscopic measurement methods have not been successful due to fact that the devices measure tissue sugar, and not the blood sugar. At the moment there are two continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) available. One is the GlucoWatch G2 Biographer and the other is Medtronic’s Minimed Paradigm RTS. The Minimed comes under the minimally invasive type, as it requires a small plastic catheter to be inserted just under the skin. Small amounts of liquid is collected which is passed through a “biosensor” to measure the amount of glucose present. The probe is attached to a small transmitter which sends interstitial glucose levels every five minutes to a small pager sized receiver. Minimed is not suitable for continuous day to day monitoring. It helps to discover trends in glucose levels during the day. The readings are collected after measurements over a 72-hour period. The data has to be then downloaded for study. It can prove to be an indicator to understand the trends to know the best time to do standard fingerstick tests. A prescription to buy MiniMed is required.
Another one is the DexCom STS System which is a hypodermic probe with a small transmitter. The receiver, the size of a cell phone can operate up to five feet from the transmitter. It can monitor and log levels at five-minute intervals for up to 72 hours. You can even set alarm for the high and low glucose levels.
The noninvasive blood glucose meters cannot replace the standard glucose testing. Over a period of time improvement in technology would make it a good device.