Know thy self's sugar level...
March 10, 2005 2:12 PM   Subscribe

I want to try monitoring my own blood sugar levels and linking it with energy, mood etc. How to go about this?

My friends often say "Oh, I am feeling poopy/tired/cranky, my blood sugar's crashed." I often feel these things, but have never felt I could tie it to my blood sugar. So I want to approach it scientifically, if the cost is not excessive. I was assuming via diabetic monitoring tools, but is that super pricey?

Also, I wonder about using those dextrose (?) tablets from the diabetic section as a 'pick me up' to even out blood sugar levels in the event of a dip.
posted by BleachBypass to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can get a blood glucose meter at your local pharmacy. Check magazines and newspapers for coupons as these are frequently heavily discounted. You will need strips to go with the meter. You prick you finger and put a drop of blood on the meter and it will tell you your blood glucose level. The urine based test strips really don't keep up with the kind of rapid changes you are looking to measure.
posted by caddis at 2:20 PM on March 10, 2005


Most monitors come with a coupon for a heavy rebate, also (or alternatively). I don't know how much the strips and finger pricks cost without a prescription and corresponding insurance coverage, though.
posted by redfoxtail at 2:32 PM on March 10, 2005


most diabetics get one free every year or two through their insurance, so best bet is get a used one (don't worry, as long as your fingerstick/lancet is clean, there's no risk of pathogen infection). strips are not cheap but sometimes you can get a box full with a new meter, if you but a new one.
posted by luriete at 2:42 PM on March 10, 2005


If your pancreas is in good working order, shouldn't your blood sugar level always be the same regardless of your perceived energy level? Anecdotally, I've tested my blood sugar a bunch of times (I know someone with diabetes and I'm occasionally curious if there are variations), and it's always been roughly 100, give or take some very small amount.
posted by MarkAnd at 3:11 PM on March 10, 2005


Check out Lifeform, old but still usable software where you can plug in your readings and graph it with your moods, exercise, stress, diet, etc. so you can see if there's a pattern. This is something you'd see over time, not instantly, but might be helpful. There's a trial version.
posted by sageleaf at 3:25 PM on March 10, 2005


If your pancreas is in good working order, shouldn't your blood sugar level always be the same regardless of your perceived energy level?

Um, no.
posted by kindall at 3:27 PM on March 10, 2005


Um, no.

Okey-doke. How much does it vary then? I've probably tested my blood 20 times over the last ten years and it's always been within 10 points of 100. Shows the value of anecdotal evidence.
posted by MarkAnd at 3:43 PM on March 10, 2005


A lot of people, not just diabetics, have blood sugar variations which affect mood (and more). Check out info on hypoglycemia, diabetes, blood sugar and the like and you will be amazed.
posted by caddis at 3:50 PM on March 10, 2005


Best answer: That's fun. I did the same thing as an experiment a few months ago. The result? Almost always within 10 points of 96. Only once did a big change in my mood correlate with a blood sugar spike. I was having a moment of super-productive geek euphoria, and my blood sugar tested a 126.

I considered the entire experiment kind of worthless (except to tell me that my mid-day tiredness is not blood-sugar related).

I bought a OneTouch UltraSmart and 50 test strips for about $100.

...if you're interested in this sort of self-monitoring, but want to kick it up a step, check out The OpenEEG project. Do it yourself electroencephalograms!
posted by Laen at 5:53 PM on March 10, 2005


I'm diabetic.

The monitors themselves aren't very expensive, it's the strips that cost a bundle; they average $1 CDN per strip. That adds up quickly when you you're supposed to test two to four times per day. I'm just now getting regular insurance and won't have to pay so much.

While you can use the dextrose pills (I've never checked into them), candy or orange juice work as well.
posted by deborah at 7:51 PM on March 10, 2005


Response by poster: This is good stuff, and touches on the underlying question, will it actually be productive/interesting way to learn about myself? I have always been fascinated with the concept of biofeedback, etc., but had never really thought of any DIY methodology until this.
posted by BleachBypass at 8:31 PM on March 10, 2005


Response by poster: This 'best answer' business makes me feel like a jackass. It's all very good, thank you to all contributors, past and future.
posted by BleachBypass at 8:33 PM on March 10, 2005


Anyone know how the new ones work, where you just touch it to your skin and no pricking/blood required?
posted by scazza at 9:06 PM on March 10, 2005


Orange juice is actually faster than oral dextrose.

Most folks will have blood sugar in the 80-120 range most of the time. What people call "hypoglycemia" is really better described as "I get grumpy when I'm hungry," in my opinion.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:13 AM on March 11, 2005


i've been diabetic for 20 years. if your blood sugars are varying enough to affect your mood (hundreds, not tens), you have a physical problem - not just a mood problem. it's not an either/or thing, so there are "almost diabetic" people out there. but unless they've actually tested their blood sugars, your friends are probably wrong to attribute mood to blood sugar. there are plenty of other ways in which foods affect mood (caffeine, for example). as testing strips are ridiculously expensive, you may want to just record what you're eating and your moods and look for patterns.
posted by scottreynen at 9:59 AM on March 11, 2005


ikkyu, hypoglycemia doesn't always result in grumpiness. i often compare low blood sugar to drunkenness. sometimes it makes you grumpy. other times it's a happy sensation. in any case, it's a physical condition, objectively distinct from hunger.
posted by scottreynen at 10:13 AM on March 11, 2005


Anyone know how the new ones work, where you just touch it to your skin and no pricking/blood required?

According to this story, "Hitachi Ltd has succeeded in developing the world's first blood sugar measuring device able to provide readings without taking a blood sample. The company hopes to market the lunch box-sized device before the end of the year." [picture included]

And, as an aside, in the meantime, don't take your blood from your forearm if you want an accurate reading.
posted by WestCoaster at 2:31 PM on March 11, 2005


Response by poster: Good stuff! Thanks again.
posted by BleachBypass at 10:34 AM on March 14, 2005


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