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Diabetic Needles And Turkey Breath

Nov 18, 13 Diabetic Needles And Turkey Breath

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. I find that particularly ironic, considering that it is also the same month as Thanksgiving. This all-American holiday is better known as “stuff yourself until you pass out while watching football” day. It seems weird that the individuals who are most conscientious of their food consumption are recognized during the month where most of us are least conscientious of it.

November has 30 days. A diabetic tests him or herself before and after every meal, in addition to various times throughout the day. This usually ranges between five to ten times per day for type 1 and type 2 diabetics. For the sake of this thought experiment, let’s say it’s seven.

Each time a diabetic tests, they prick one of their fingers with a small needle in order to get a small drop of blood. The blood glucose level is read with a glucometer. So, picture your favorite diabetic. It could be Bret Michaels, Nick Jonas, or a close friend. In my case, I have a four-way tie between my youngest brother, best friend, and two cousins.

Now, if they test their blood sugar seven times a day, every day in the month of November, that equals 210 finger pricks. I do not know about you, but I can be a wimp about paper cuts. I cannot imagine purposefully drawing blood from my fingers 210 times in a month. However, reality check, diabetics will do this every single month for the rest of their lives.

In the words of Sir Frederick Grant Banting, “Insulin is not a cure for diabetes; it is a treatment.” We have come a long way from the isolation of dog insulin. However, I appreciate those who continue to seek new technologies. Insulin pumps and glucometers are not cures. Until we have a cure for diabetes, we need therapies that make living with it as normal and painless as possible.

For example, what if we were able to limit the number of times a diabetic had to prick their finger in a given day? redOrbit writer Brett Smith details the latest way to test your blood sugar: Blood Sugar Breathalyzer.

The author explains, “This technology uses nanometer-thick films made from two polymers that react with acetone.” Acetone is an organic compound that is able to correlate an individual’s blood-glucose level.

The acetone present in their breath would alter the polymer films. That alteration can be quantified and the “quantification” can give a blood sugar reading. There are still some flaws with the design. Readings are affected by temperature and humidity levels.

This technology is unique because it only reads acetone levels. That means that it will not interact with the lingering turkey in your breath from the Thanksgiving smorgasbord. Although it is currently the size of a small book, scientists are hoping to refine and shrink it so that it can be utilized on a daily basis. Clinical trials will be conducted over the next two years.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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About 

Alexis has studied biology at Anderson University in Anderson, IN. She has experience in both theoretical and laboratory science. She studied bioethics at Yale University and has worked on diabetes research through Indiana University School of Medicine. Alexis is passionate about science, stories, and sharing her love of those things with all that are interested.

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