Many Diabetics Needlessly Test Blood Sugar At Home

A US study conducted by Dr. Kevin Platt of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and author of the study, reports that people with Type 2 diabetes are testing their blood sugar levels at home several times a day unnecessarily. In fact, the study shows that one in 7 people with Type 2 diabetes is doing so.

If people who have Type 2 diabetes have well-controlled symptoms and are not taking any medications that can cause their blood sugar levels to drop to dangerously low levels, doctors say they don’t need to test their blood.
According to studies, monitoring their blood sugar at home several times a day makes no difference in their blood sugar levels and so a lot of them are unnecessarily pricking their finger.

The data of more than 370,000 people with Type 2 diabetes was examined by researchers. And what they found overall, was that almost 88,000 or near 23 percent were filing for at least three insurance claims for test strips to check their blood sugar levels at home. And researchers reported in the Journal for the American Medical Association (JAMA) that at least 14 percent or more than half of them didn’t need to test their blood sugar levels at home at all.

“Many Type 2 diabetes patients not using insulin or other medications at risk of rapid changes in blood sugar levels are testing far more often than they need to be,” said Platt.

“This needless behavior causes unnecessary pokes, worry and costs,” Platt said by email. “More is not always better when it comes to medical care.”

Obesity and aging are linked to Type 2 diabetes which is the more common form of the disease and “develops when the body can no longer properly use or make enough of its own hormone insulin to convert blood sugar into energy,” according to the JAMA article. “It is dangerous to let it go untreated as it leads to complications of blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and amputations.”

Oral medications can be taken to keep blood sugar in a healthy range for many patients and then they don’t need to take insulin. According to Plat, “Unlike insulin, which immediately affects blood sugar and requires regular testing to ensure that blood sugar is in a healthy range, those on oral medication for diabetes don’t require regular testing because the pills don’t cause rapid shifts in blood sugar.”

The report also says that 33,000 out of the 370,000 people who were analyzed that were needlessly testing blood sugar at home, were not taking medications that are known to affect their blood sugar levels to drop dangerously and 19,000 of them were not on any diabetes medications at all.