Blood Sugar Check

Blood sugar can be checked by patients at home. This is called SMBG (self-monitoring blood glucose) or in the laboratory. Small portable hand held battery operated devices are in common use. The accuracy has about 10% variability as compared to laboratory testing.

Indications :

All cases of Type I Diabetes mellitus should frequently check blood sugars. This should be done multiple times daily in most cases as fluctuations are more common in Type I DM

  • by those on multiple insulin injections daily,
  • while adjusting insulin doses,
  • when hypoglycemia is suspected,
  • before exercise /games etc
  • before driving.
  • During travel

It is required less frequently in Type II Diabetes. It is checked for patients on insulin and those having hypoglycemic episodes. Once a week check may be enough for most patients. Those who are on a tight control of sugars require more frequent checks.

It is also recommended during treatment of hypoglycemia to ensure that blood levels of glucose have improved and remain improved.

Time of Testing :

For type II cases and those suspected to have hypoglycemia often, morning and before dinner levels are useful. However, treatment should not be delayed in serious hypoglycemia suspicions as delay in correcting glucose levels may cause permanent injury to some organs especially nervous system.

Methods :

Venous or capillary blood is used for measurement of blood sugar. It can be measured in plasma or serum. Capillary and plasma levels are 10% lower and higher compared to venous and serum levels due to glucose utilization by tissues and RBCs.

Glucometers use strips impregnated with glucose oxidase. Most show plasma glucose rather than whole blood levels.

Calibration is required before using a fresh set of strips.

Best results are obtained if a lancet is used for puncture of the skin. Blood should come out easily rather than being squeezed from the fingertip. Sides of terminal digits should be used as punctures in front areas would be painful when hands are used. Hands should be washed and dried before a sample is taken.

Higher values may not be measured precisely and are often shown as High levels.

Test strips should be fresh and manufacturers guidelines should be adhered to.

Units of Measurement :

Old methods report sugar level in mg/deciliter while the newer methods are in mmol/liter. To convert from mg/dl to mmol /l the former values are divided by 18.

HbA1C or glycated Hb measures level over previous 12 weeks or so. The test, however, should be done in a fasting stage and is a good guide for overall diabetic control.

Diabetes Care

For patients suffering from type II /adult onset diabetes :

In type II diabetes, diagnosis is often late (after the disease has already been present for some time). In early days T2DM (short for the adult type of diabetes) are often without symptoms. Hence the delay in diagnosis. This means complications will be seen early after diagnosis.

Foot Care :

Foot disease in diabetes may lead to difficulty in walking, pain and may lead to infections. If neglected amputation may be required.

Inspect feet with a mirror before going to sleep every night.

Use well fitting shoewear.

Do not walk bare feet even in the house.

Socks should be clean and correct size.

In case of deformities of feet, special shoes can be worn.

Eye Care :

It is nowadays the commonest cause of blindness throughout the world.

Check for refractory error at the time of diagnosis and once sugars are controlled.  In T2DM every year examination for changes in retina are required. If there are already changes, check up is required more often.

Retina is checked after dilating pupil with an ophthalmoscope.

Kidneys :

It is one of the common causes of kidney failure leading to requirement of dialysis and renal transplant. Early treatment may reverse diabetic kidney disease or slow its progression.

In early cases urine is checked for passage of extra amounts of albumin. This can be quantified to see response to therapy. This test is called urine for microalbuminuria, and urine albumin /creatinine ratio. If the disease is already present, USG, S Cr and testing for voiding function (Uroflowmetry) etc may be useful.

In those without evidence of kidney disease these tests are carried out every year. Frequency otherwise may depend on the stage of involvement. More severe involvement necessitates more frequent reviews.

Nerves :

Nerve involvement is checked by touch, pain, vibration sense.

During winters, hot water should be checked with either a thermometer or elbows. If fingers are used for checking temperature, very hot water may lead to burns.

Precautions should be taken to avoid falls.

Sugar Levels :

HbA1C level may be done every 3 months to monitor overall sugar control in blood. In most cases a level of < 7 is desirable.

If hypoglycaemia is frequent , a level of < 8 may be  all that can be achieved safely. In cases of some microvascular complications, a level < 6.5 may help but is difficult to achieve. Home sugar monitoring is done from capillary blood. The levels are different from venous blood levels tested in laboratories. Only sides of fingers should be used and not the areas used for holding functions of the hand. In T2DM once weekly sugars may be enough. In T1DM almost daily or before each meal sugars are required. Levels for control should not be done within 2 hours of meals. Check if there is uncertainty about diagnosis of hypoglycaemia. Do not wait for giving sugars, if testing takes time or symptoms are severe (loss of consciousness, confused talk, fits etc.) Treatment presumptively may prevent permanent damage to the brain. However sugar is not the treatment in diabetics for every small symptom. Record times of sugar checking and dates in a notebook for planning of drugs. Lipids and Statins : If there are more cardiovascular risk factors, age > 50 yrs in man, smoking, lower levels of LDL cholesterol are desirable. Daily 75 or 150 mg  of aspirin or statins may decrease risk of heart attacks. Bleeding complications however increase with aspirin.

Regular exercise, monitoring weight, smoking cessation all are essential parts of diabetic care.

Urinary Tract Infection: Men

UTI in Men

Compared to women, Urinary tract infections in men are uncommon. This is due to the longer length of urethra and dryness of the urethral opening (called meatus). Prostatic secretions have antibacterial properties and hence these may prevent urinary tract infections. Non-circumcision is also a risk factor for UTI. The commonest organism is E coli.

UTI is common if there is an anatomic abnormality, obstruction, instrumentation of the urinary tract or prior surgery. In men after 50 years of age, prostatic enlargement can make a person prone to UTI.

As in the case of women, the infections of the urinary tract may involve urethra, bladder or kidney or a combination of all of them. In addition, the prostate gland can also be infected.

Symptoms :

Symptoms are similar to those in women. However, infections of the prostate can give rise to fever and pain in the perineum (the area between anus and scrotum).

Diagnosis of UTI is by its symptoms, physical examination and laboratory tests. The prostate is tender on digital examination of the rectum.

Urine shows increased pus cells, nitrate test is positive and midstream urine culture shows >105 bacteria /ml of urine. In case of recurrence, if no cause is apparent, tests are done to ascertain anatomical details of the urinary tract.

Treatment is started empirically. In case of no or poor response in 2-3 days, the drugs are modified based on culture results.