For people with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is vital to staying healthy. High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of heart attack, nerve damage, vision problems, and even kidney disease. On the other hand, low blood sugar levels may lead to confusion, feelings of weakness, anxiety, and loss of consciousness.  There are many ways we can monitor our glucose levels, and each method has its benefits and drawbacks.

Diabetic Test Strips

Diabetic test strips are the main way most people monitor their blood sugar. Typically, most doctors’ offices, school nurses’ offices, and health clinics have test strips on hand. Oftentimes, someone may carry around extra test strips as well. While most test strips require a monitoring device, some less-common test strips do not need a reading device.


Test strips work by placing blood onto the strip, which activates a chemical called glucose oxidase. The glucose oxidase reacts with the glucose in the blood to create gluconic acid, a different chemical that test strips use to measure blood glucose levels. Test strips that do not require a glucose monitor change color depending on the gluconic acid content.

Self-Monitoring Glucose Devices

Test strips that require a glucose monitor work similarly, but instead of changing color, the end of the strip users place into the meter receives a light current. This current travels through terminals on the strip to the other end, and the current between these terminals changes based on the amount of gluconic acid between them. The meter then uses an algorithm to calculate the difference between each current to provide an accurate reading of blood sugar level.

Continuous Glucose Monitors

Unlike test strips and self-monitoring glucose devices, a continuous glucose monitor reads blood sugar levels constantly. To do so, a sensor is placed under the skin (most often on the belly or arm). This sensor reads glucose levels between the body’s cells and then relays that information wirelessly to a small monitor the user can carry with them. These monitors may also have alarms that go off when glucose levels are too high or low.


These monitors are most often used in conjunction with insulin pumps since they monitor glucose levels every few minutes. Depending on glucose levels, the transmitter may also send a signal for extra insulin as well. Since CGMs read glucose levels constantly, they are best used for people with Type 1 Diabetes since they can’t produce insulin at all.


To browse diabetic test kits, supplies, and other items, visit Medical Supply Depot.

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