If you have diabetes, you know this serious chronic disease is prevalent all over the world. Despite numerous medical advances, it remains a leading cause of death. To control diabetes and prevent a host of complications, you must monitor your blood-sugar levels frequently. However, the discomfort that the present-day methods inflict makes many patients reluctant to check their blood glucose. To overcome the current poor diabetes management techniques, scientists have developed a non-invasive glucose monitoring system that’s painless.
Current Diabetes Testing Techniques
Whether your diabetes is Type 1 (childhood onset), Type 2 (adult onset), or gestational (while pregnant), monitoring your blood-sugar levels will help you keep them as near to normal as possible. The two main current ways to test glucose have disadvantages that the future tattoo option could overcome.
Glucometer: This small portable device is the most common blood-sugar measurement method. First, you must prick a finger with a lancet. Then you insert a test strip with a blood sample into your meter, which displays your reading. Testing your blood glucose helps you discover how certain foods, workouts, illnesses, stress, and medications cause fluctuations. As Actos helps control your Type 2 diabetes blood sugar levels, it also increases your cells’ insulin sensitivity to use that glucose as energy.
Some meters store numerous results. Comparisons over time can help you spot major changes and predict your levels for specific daily times. Glucose meters and diabetes testing supplies can be affordable on some medical insurance plans. However, repeating the finger-prick step multiple times per day can be relatively painful. If fear of recurring discomfort stops you from testing as often as you should, your consequences could be much worse. Long-term effects of badly managed glucose can compromise your organs as well as bodily functions.
Continuous glucose monitor (CGM): Receiving almost constant feedback encourages more stable and consistent blood-sugar levels. The sensor’s glucose oxidase electrode under your skin produces an electrical current when glucose is present. It transmits data about your glucose levels through radio waves to a wireless pager-like monitor. This device measures that current and then displays your blood-glucose readings as frequently as every minute. Some devices are able to alert you when your levels increase or drop.
Disappointingly, inserting CGM sensors under your skin tends to be painful, and wearing both a transmitter and receiver on your body may be inconvenient. One sensor lasts from several days up to one week, and replacements are expensive. Your insurance may not cover them as well as test strips and glucometers.
Electronic Sensors Could Replace Painful Methods
University of California researchersdeveloped a small temporary clear adhesive tattoo that extracts and monitors glucose levels painlessly and continuously. It draws glucose gently between cells up to the skin’s surface where built-in sensors measure it. This discreet and non-invasive gadget is extremely affordable, costing only a few pennies. And it works as efficiently as traditional fingertip prick testing. Someday, this innovative and convenient invention could replace current painful methods.
Over 10 years ago, the GlucoWatch made significant progress on this front. This wristband extracted glucose up toward the skin’s surface, where built-in sensors detected it. Fluid between the wearer’s skin cells also transmits glucose. A low electrical current attracted this fluid’s sodium ions to flow toward the gadget. Then the glucose entered the watch’s gel-filled discs that contained glucose oxidase, an enzyme that breaks glucose down into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. The sensors measured the latter amount, which served as the glucose level’s proxy.
Unfortunately, the electric current caused user discomfort, so the manufacturer discontinued the GlucoWatch. But now, scientists have used its principles to design a new monitoring device. It also calculates glucose levels in intercellular fluid instead of blood. But it avoids irritation by utilizing a significantly reduced electric current to pull sodium ions. Tattoo paper imprinted with tiny woven electrodes sticks to skin. This flexible strip uses glucose oxidase to sense glucose levels for about one day. Work continues to make each tattoo usable for longer periods while keeping costs down.
The inventors tested the tattoo on seven subjects ranging from 20 to 40 years old without diabetes histories. In the initial trials, no one reported any feelings of discomfort. But some experienced tingling for a few moments. To test if the tattoos could pick up glucose changes successfully, the volunteers consumed high-carbohydrate sandwiches and soft drinks. Afterward, the devices detected glucose spikes as efficiently as conventional monitoring methods.
Unlike blood-sugar meters and CGMs, this preliminary tattoo doesn’t supply the numerical readout that’s necessary to monitor diabetic glucose levels. But the research team is designing a Bluetooth integration tool to send the results to patients’ smartphones, other devices, or their physicians. This handy test tool has the potential to provide the technology for better diabetes management without painful site insertions and high costs. The scientists hope that various adaptations could make their invention useful for testing levels of additional compounds such as metabolites, illegal drugs, alcohol, and medications.