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02 Oct '15

How to Determine Which Gauge to Use For Your Diabetic Lancing Device

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), approximately 1.7 million Americans are diagnosed with Diabetes and if current trends remain the same, 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes by the year 2050.  Broken down further, there are approximately 4,657 new diabetic patients diagnosed every day that are having to experience the process of pricking their fingers for the first time in order to read their blood sugar.

If you fall under this category, undoubtedly, your doctor has given you instructions on the process and the different products you will become accustomed to such as a blood glucose meter, test strips, lancet pins, control solutions, insulin pumps, and lancets.  Yet, many times a Doctor will just give an overview and send a patient on their way with many questions unanswered.

Finding tips and tricks to make the process of checking your blood sugar in a quick and accurate manner are important to diabetic patients.  Yet, finding ways to reduce the discomfort of pricking the fingers for blood samples is usually on the top of every diabetics patient list.

Lancing Devices and Lancets

Easy Touch LancetA lancing device is a spring loaded mechanism that, when loaded with a lancet, pricks a finger quickly in order to provide a small sample of blood for the test strip.  Most of the lancing devices today are equipped with 2 - 3 depth settings.  The higher settings will penetrate deeper while the lower settings are for individuals with thin, sensitive skin such as senior citizens patients and children.  The higher settings are for patients who have thick callouses on their skin which will allow the lancet to push through the callouses.

The lancet is a sterile grade steel needle encased in a plastic cylinder used to prick the finger.  There are 3 common gauges that the needle comes in which are 28, 30, and 33 gauge.  The 28 gauge is the thickest needle while the 33 gauge is the thin needle.  It's advised strongly to only use a lancet once and properly dispose.  If you use a lancet more than once, you have more of a chance of getting an infection.  In addition to infection, the needle will begin to dull after one use and it will cause more pain the more you use it.

 

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Tips on How to Reduce Pain from Lancets

When it comes to placement or where to draw the blood sample from, most experienced patients will tell you to start on the side of your finger.  This is because there are less nerves on the side of your fingers and less resistance.  Also, warming up your hands by rubbing them together or placing them under hot water for 30 seconds will get your blood circulating and reduce the pain as opposed to cold hands. 

If you're lancing daily,  it's easy to get in the habit of just lancing the same finger every day as it seems you're building more tolerance to the pain. Yet, it's wise to change fingers daily so you can reduce building scarring and callouses.

Is it OK to Squeeze the Incision to get a Sufficient Sample?

If you find yourself having to 'milk' the incision in order to get a large enough sample, you may want to make adjustments.  There are large debates on this subject matter in diabetes circles.  Many are on the side of not milking the wound because many believe it gives a false reading by adding additional tissue fluids.  On the other side of the argument are the individuals who believe it's simply an old wives' tales.  Which ever side you fall under, the fact remains that if you find yourself having to squeeze for a blood sample, you probably haven't used the lancet right or haven't properly set up your lancet as the modern test strips only need a 0.5 micro-liter of blood to get an accurate reading.

In the end, it's up to the patient to find the best methods to get an accurate, quick, and less painful blood sample.  Fortunately we've come a long way and there are many different strategies to use and experiment with in order to find a preferred method.


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