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March 16, 2009

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections, Daily Care

Question from Tennessee, USA:

I have had type 1 diabetes for most of my life. Twenty years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, my doctor had me testing up to seven times a day. My fingers were getting sore so the doctor told me to take blood from my earlobe. I have been doing that for 20 years now because it doesn't hurt. I still have to type every day and don't want to have sore fingers. Is there a reason why I shouldn't use my ear lobe?

Answer:

This practice has been used as an alternative to finger sticks. I am not sure it has been tested as thoroughly as alternative sites such as the arm. When the alternative site meters came out, they had to generate data to compare with results obtained in the usual fashion. I am not aware of any ear lobe sampling data. I would make sure that your physician reviews the integrity of the ear lobe to make sure there are no occult areas of infection. Even using your arm as an alternate site may also give you additional surface area to rotate around. It would be interesting to compare simultaneous data from arm, finger, and ear lobe.

JTL