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March 25, 2002

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from Redmond, Washington, USA:

My son, diagnosed at 13 months of age, cannot verbally tell me how he feels even if he knew what he was feeling, so we rely on frequent testing. Why do we use blood glucose testing instead of another way of testing glucose used in the body? Blood transports the glucose but does not indicate if the body is getting adequate amounts for different body functions. I have always wondered why this is choice of monitoring beyond the obvious of easy accessibility.

Answer:

There is no other kind of monitoring except for blood that is as accurate and reliable. Tests can be done on numerous other body fluids (saliva, tears, interstitial fluid), but all have other drawbacks that make them less desirable than capillary blood. Lots of research is being done using lasers which would provide continuous monitoring if they can be perfected, but none are quite ready at the moment.

SB