Estimating Your Blood Glucose Level

Some researchers believe that having type 1 children practice at estimating their blood glucose (BG) levels is not an effective way to increase accuracy and ‘may be contraindicated.’

In a study of 43 type 1 children at diabetes summer camps—average age of 13.4 years—researchers explored whether estimating blood glucose levels would increase accuracy in children with type 1.

It was predicted that accuracy would improve with practice and that younger, anxious, ‘poorly adjusted’ children would improve most.

Children guessed what their blood glucose levels were and then compared their guesses to their real glucose levels four times a day for seven days.

In an interview with Diabetes Health, Julie Wagner, PhD, lead researcher on the study, said, “We found that people temporarily improved at figuring out their blood glucose, and then got much worse.”

Older children were more likely to improve and then deteriorate. Younger children were more likely to improve and sustain those improvements.

“These results can help guide research and clinical use of glucose estimation in children,” conclude the researchers.

—Psychological Reports, July 2004

What Is Estimating Blood Glucose Levels?

Estimating your blood glucose is a technique used to determine your blood glucose level without actually performing a blood glucose measurement with a meter or visual strip.

For example, people with diabetes might try to figure out their BG based on how they feel, what they ate recently, how much diabetes medication they took and how active they have been.

Is Estimating Safe?

When the patient is properly trained to estimate blood glucose, estimating can be a helpful adjunct to testing with a meter or visual strip. For example, if you ‘feel low’, you should consider that feeling a cue to test with a meter. Or, if you calculate that based on what you ate and your activity level you might be high, you should use that information as a cue to test.

But estimating should never be used in place of testing. Furthermore, effective training to teach people increased awareness of their blood glucose is highly structured and intensive and requires professional instruction.

What Did You And Your Associates Mean When You Wrote, ‘These Results Can Help Guide Research And Clinical Use Of Glucose Estimation In Children’?

Clinically, it means that doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others who work with diabetes patients should encourage patients to perform regular blood glucose measurements with meters (or visual strips). They should discourage patients from only relying simply on how they ‘feel’. In terms of research, it means that other researchers can use the information we found to make their studies better.

Julie Wagner, PhD, Assistant Professor
Department of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health
University of Connecticut Health Center
Farmington, Connecticut

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