How to Choose the Right Glucometer?

Only a diabetic knows the real ordeal of managing their condition that has far reaching impact on their overall health. The smallest fluctuations in the associated factors could upset the blood glucose levels to a tremendous extent. It is very important if you are diabetic that you monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. It gives you and your doctor an insight into the effectiveness of the treatment plan.

Is the new diet working well, is your exercise routine helping, to what extent your stress levels can affect the blood glucose levels; these are very critical aspects of managing diabetes and it’s important to know the answers. Inadequately managed diabetes can lead to blindness and renal disorders. Of course, it would be very impractical to go to your doctor’s office to get your blood sugar levels checked every now and then. This is why you need your own, personal blood sugar monitor, also known as the glucometer. A glucometer is a compact digital device that can be used to monitor the blood sugar levels of the diabetic patients at home.

Now let’s talk about how it works and what features a good glucometer should have.

How does the Blood Sugar Monitor Work?

When it is about the mechanism used in the glucometers all boils down to chemistry. The glucometer consists of two elements; the testing strip and the monitor. The testing strip is for one-time use only and it is where all the magic happens. The strip comprises of some layers of specific chemicals and partitions to keep them segregated. The first chemical in the strip is the glucose oxidase. There is another one known as potassium ferricyanide. There are two metal electrodes as well that are meant for determining the flow of current that takes place during the chemical reaction.

The chemical reaction commences when the blood comes in contact with the testing strip and gets absorbed. The glucose oxidase reacts with the glucose in the blood and gets converted into gluconic acid. The gluconic acid moves onto the next layer in the strip, i.e., the potassium ferricyanide. The reaction between the gluconic acid and potassium ferricyanide results into the formation of potassium ferrocyanide. The potassium ferrocyanide reacts with the electrodes, which basically is electrolysis. The electrodes measure the flow of current and the monitor interprets it and displays the results on the screen in the form of a number that we can understand.

It is quite obvious that higher the blood glucose levels, more intense the reaction, and greater the amount of current generated. Although it might sound complicated to those who are not familiar with the concepts of chemistry, this is a very simple chain of reactions. Your glucometer looks compact and packs the power to show you the readings of your blood sugar levels within just a few seconds.

How to Choose the Right Glucometer?

Whether you are new to glucometers or you already have been using one and wish to upgrade to a better device; the above question is equally important in both cases. The cost of glucometer has two components as well, one being the initial cost of the monitor and the kit itself and the subsequent other supplies of testing strips. Before you start researching on a particular type of glucometer, do consult your doctor so that they can advise you to go for a specific glucometer.
  • Simplicity and Ease
The other thing to consider is the ease of use. Some glucometers are very straightforward while others need more effort. How much blood does the test strip need to produce accurate readings, how much time does it take to get the reading, are the buttons large enough to offer convenience; are some important factors to consider. Glucometers needing a small blood sample, between 1 and 1.5 microlitres, are always preferable.
  • Quality of Screen
The screen of your glucometer should be sufficiently large and bright to let you read the result effortlessly. It’s even better if you go for a device with an illuminated screen, which is just great for people who have trouble seeing clearly.
  • Beepers and Audio Capabilities
Be it a glucometer or just any other health monitoring device for home use, a beeper is always a desirable feature. It makes a sound to get your attention and lets you know the process has been completed and readings generated. Besides, glucometers with audio capabilities that read out the results are great for those who have a bad vision.

  • Memory

Some hi-end glucometers have a memory to store the blood test results; along with the date and time the tests were taken. Such devices are also capable of charting a trend of your blood sugar levels to show you the big picture. Some glucometers also facilitate downloading your results to your smartphone or computer for further analysis.

  • Budget

Like in the case of any other health monitoring device, your budget plays a crucial role while purchasing a glucometer as well. The price on the basic glucometer would be low and the one with fancy features would obviously cost more. A glucometer is like an investment. You would need to use it several times a day and accuracy is very important. Try not to go for a very low-end product. Opt for a reputed, doctor-recommended brand. It will serve you well in the long run. Apart from the spectacular product, the reputed brands are known for their good customer service and warranty against manufacturing defects. One Touch and Accu-Check are the makers of trustworthy blood glucose monitoring devices available in India.

Finally, when you buy the glucometer, take it to your doctor’s office. Most glucometers come with a comprehensive user manual with pictorials, but it won’t harm seeing your doctor just to be sure you know your device well. They will help you with using it. Also, verify your glucometer’s readings against your doctor’s glucometer, just to be sure yours is accurate. Keep the manufacturer’s toll-free number handy, should you have any queries pertaining to the functionality of your device or if it needs troubleshooting.

How to Choose the Right Blood Pressure Monitor?

An increasing number of people are developing hypertension each year given the chaotic lifestyle, unhealthy dietary habits and sometimes their genetic predisposition. In order to control the condition and preventing it from worsening, it is extremely important that the patients monitor their blood pressure regularly. It is quite obvious that visiting the doctor every other day is not a feasible option. This is where the home health monitoring devices come into the picture.

Blood pressure monitors for checking blood pressure at home are all the rage right now. Not only do they offer convenience but also motivate the user to enhance their lifestyle and gain control over the condition. The market is flooded with hundreds of blood pressure monitoring devices. But which one is right for you? What should your blood pressure monitor have that will make it worth all the money you spend? Let’s talk about it.

How does the Blood Pressure Monitor Work?

The blood pressure is expressed in terms of two numbers one over the other. The normal blood pressure is 120 over 80 or 120/80 mm of Hg. The 120 is the systolic pressure and 80 is the diastolic pressure. A person with pre-hypertension pressure exhibits the systolic blood pressure in the range of 120-139 and the diastolic pressure in the range of 80-89. A person with full-blown hypertension has the systolic pressure of 140 or above and the diastolic pressure of 90 or above.

Now you might be wondering, what do systolic and diastolic mean? Systolic pressure is the pressure of blood in the arteries which is created every time the ventricles of the heart contract and push oxygenated blood out into the body. Diastolic pressure is the blood pressure in the arteries when the ventricles relax in between in the contractions.

The blood pressure monitor measures the arterial blood pressure at these two instances, i.e., contraction and relaxation of the ventricles of the heart. The sphygmomanometer used by the doctors is a complex device and not everybody can use it and interpret the readings correctly. To make blood pressure monitoring at home hassle free, the makers of the blood pressure monitors have been striving to simplify and automate the device.

Regular monitoring of blood pressure is important for patients of pre-hypertension to detect any health problems early ahead and to manage the anomaly in a better manner. Similarly, hypertension patients need routine checkups to make sure their medication and changes in diet and lifestyle are making a positive difference.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Blood Pressure Monitor?

  • Type of Blood Pressure Monitors

It goes without saying that you must go for the fully automatic, digital blood pressure monitor. But there are 3 subtypes as well. Some monitors measure the blood pressure at your finger while some are supposed to measure the pressure at the wrist. However, the monitors that are designed to measure blood pressure at the upper arm are your best bet. They are way more accurate than the other two variants. The cuff is supposed to be worn in the center, right between the elbow and the shoulder joint. Doctors advise against using monitors that measure the blood pressure at the finger because they are very inaccurate.
  • Size of the Cuff

When it comes to cuff size, there is no ‘one size fits all’. Most blood pressure monitoring devices come with medium-size cuffs, which would be too big for children and too small for well-built or obese individuals. In that case, you might want to order a separate cuff that would fit your arm well. Here is a guide of cuff length in centimeter corresponding to the small, medium and large size.

o  Large – 32 to 45 centimeters
o  Medium – 22 to 32 centimeters
o  Small – 18 to 22 centimeters
  • Automated Operations

The blood pressure monitoring device should offer a one-touch operation. Once the cuff is wrapped around the arm and the device turned on, the cuff inflates automatically. The device is equipped with the fuzzy logic mechanism and it is programmed to know how much the cuff should inflate and when it should deflate. The device then records the systolic and diastolic pressures as well as the pulse rate.
  • Vivid Display

No matter how sophisticated your blood pressure monitor is, it makes no sense if you cannot make sense what is displayed on the screen. A good blood pressure monitor should have a nice, bright and larger LED screen. The characters appearing on the screen should be large enough, dark and bold to avoid any incidence of misreading the results. The screen should display the heart rate, both systolic and diastolic pressures simultaneously.
  • After-Sales Services

Blood pressure monitoring devices need to be recalibrated after every one year or two. For this purpose, you would need to send your device back to the manufacturer. So before you finalize your purchases, make sure the manufacturer does indeed offer the recalibration service. Also, enquire about the fees they charge for the same.
  •  Range of Measurement

The range for measuring systolic and diastolic pressures and heart rate is an indispensable factor. Imagine you have hypertension and your blood pressure is usually about 160/100 and your blood pressure monitor’s range end at 140/90! How would you know what your blood pressure is at the moment if your device is insufficient? So always make sure your device has an adequate range.
  • Extra Features

It would be nice to have a long battery life since the blood pressure monitors usually run of 2 double-A batteries. Most of them have an inbuilt memory, sometimes with 2 different slots that store previous blood pressure readings separately for two different users. For example, the Hicks N800 Fully Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor has a memory of 120 readings, for two users, 60 readings for each. The memory definitely helps determine if your medication, exercise regimen and dietary and other lifestyle changes are working or if there is a need to tweak your dosage. It also calculates and displays the average of the previous three readings.

It goes without saying that you get what you pay for. Your budget plays an important role and the price of the device depends on its features. The prices range between INR 1999 and INR 20000. We hope this write-up cleared your dilemmas and that now you would be more confident while shopping for your new blood pressure monitoring device.

How to Choose the Right Thermometer?

No matter how simple a medical device seems, it takes a great deal of research before you buy it. The same applies to the thermometers. As simple as they seem, it is very important that you choose the one that suits your need the best. Today we will talk about thermometers, the ways to use them and the specs that a good thermometer should have. If you feel you need to buy a new thermometer, read on! This thermometer buying guide will certainly help you choose the right pick.

What is a Thermometer?

We all know what thermometers are ever since we were toddlers. The appointments with the pediatrician always commenced with measuring our body temperature with the old-school glass thermometers that we held in our mouth. But it’s been a really long time and thermometers, like any other health monitoring devices have undergone major transformation!

A word of caution though; if you are still using the glass thermometers with mercury, you should get rid of it. Do not throw it away in the trash. Since mercury is highly toxic, it needs to be disposed of safely. You could ask your doctor where can you send the thermometer for disposal like any other hazardous medical waste or you could look it up online.

Choosing the Right Thermometer

So, coming back to the new-fangled thermometers, I recently observed some of them and they have become insanely sophisticated. Gone are the days when you had to struggle to keep the thermometer under your tongue for a couple of minutes to get an accurate reading. The latest thermometers just need a few seconds to measure your body temperature. Not to mention, the new ones are more hygienic to use because not all of them need to be held in the mouth. Oh, and did I tell you these new thermometers are digital?

Types of Thermometers
  • Oral Thermometers

Some digital thermometers are meant to be used orally, i.e., by holding the tip containing the sensor under the tongue. It usually takes 60-90 seconds to produce accurate results. These thermometers have an LED screen and often display the temperature in Fahrenheit. But if you are used to the readings in Celsius, some brands offer those too. They run on a coin cell battery. Starting from INR 170 apiece, they are also easy on the pocket.
The oral thermometers are perfect for use by kids over the age of 4 as well as the adults.
  • Rectal Thermometers

As the name suggests, these thermometers are used to take the rectal temperature. The rectal thermometer is ideal for use by infants and kids under the age of 4. This is because the babies and toddlers are usually very squirmish and lack sufficient motor control to hold the oral thermometers properly in their mouth.

Rectal thermometers are very accurate and offer greater precision than the oral thermometers. Choose the one with a flexible tip. Make sure the tip has a marking that shows how deep the thermometer needs to be inserted into the rectum. It is important that you do not push it in beyond that mark; else it will certainly puncture your child’s rectum.
Before you begin to use it, check with your doctor if the particular rectal thermometer is safe to use for your child. Do not hesitate to ask for doctor’s help if the instructions in the user manual don’t suffice.
  • Axillary Thermometers

Axillary thermometers are used by holding their tip snugly in the armpit. However, this is a very inaccurate way to measure the body’s temperature.
  • Eardrum Thermometers

The eardrum thermometers have been very popular because of their simplicity and precision. The eardrum thermometer measures the infrared radiation stemming from the tissues of the eardrum and produces accurate temperature readings in just about 3 seconds. All you have to do is make the person sit still and gently place the tip of the thermometer into the person’s ear, just at the opening. You do not need to insert the thermometer too deep, just have to place the tip at the opening of the ear canal and wait for the thermometer to beep.

Eardrum thermometers are very accurate and can be used for kids as well as the adults with great ease. Make sure the ear doesn’t have too much wax accumulated in them; else it will cause the thermometer to produce incorrect readings. Also, avoid using eardrum thermometers if the person has undergone ear surgery, or has pain in their ears or an infection.

  •  Temporal Artery Thermometers
These are by far the best kind of thermometers. I was thoroughly impressed by the temporal artery thermometer when I recently visited my physician. All he did was just hold the thermometer against my forehead for 3 seconds and beep! There it was! A 101° F!

The temporal artery thermometers have an infrared scanner that measures the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead of the person. It is accurate, convenient, hygienic and really quick. These could be a bit expensive but worth every penny.

If using the temporal thermometer for babies, be sure you double check its readings against those produced by a rectal thermometer.
  • Pacifier Thermometers / Nipple Thermometer

These are the thermometers with the sensor embedded within the pacifier. It’s easy to use for taking your baby’s temperature orally. Like we mentioned earlier, oral thermometers are less accurate than rectal thermometers. That is why, most doctors suggest not using these.
  • Multipurpose Thermometers

As the name suggests, these digital thermometers are designed to use any which way you prefer, whether orally, rectally or axillary. Just make sure that when you buy one of these, you use it in one specific way only. Otherwise, it would spread bacteria and affect the health of the users.

Whatever thermometer you choose, make sure they have a nice, clear LED screen for easy readability. Almost all models come with a beeper to indicate that the thermometer has measured the temperature and can be withdrawn. The auto shut-off feature would be nice to have, as it helps save battery. You could spend a little more and get a thermometer which has a memory and stores the previous temperature readings. It will help you understand which way the temperature of the user is moving, whether the fever has increased or subsided. 

How to Choose the Right Oximeter?

Planning to buy an oximeter, are we? Need some help in making the right purchase? Well then, keep reading! In this write-up, we are going to talk about oximeters. We think it’s very important that before you hit that ‘Add to Cart’ button, you know exactly what you are going for. What exactly is an oximeter? What is it used for? What kind of oximeter would be the best for you? All these questions need to be answered so that you go for the oximeter that is really good value for money. Let’s begin, shall we?

What is an Oximeter?

If you are someone like me who loves to watch Grey’s Anatomy but has actually never been inside a hospital as sophisticated as the Grey-Sloan Memorial, you could probably relate to this. The clothespin-like device pinned onto the patients’ index finger had always got me curious. What is this thing? What does it do? And then I googled about it and so I came to know it was an oximeter. I dug really deeper and was amazed how important the role of pulse oximetry in medicine is.

An oximeter is a medical device that is used to measure the concentration of oxygen in the blood. Patients with conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, congestive heart failure, lung cancer, anemia etc may need a spot or continuous monitoring of blood oxygen level. Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive, quick and very accurate method of doing so.

How Does an Oximeter Work?

An oximeter has a probe which is pinned onto the patient’s index finger, toe or ear lobe, depending on the suitability. There are two light emitting diodes and a photo-detector on the inner side of the probe. When the oximeter is pinned onto the patient and turned on, the two light emitting diodes emit two kinds of lights. One diode emits light in the red spectrum at the wavelength of 660 nm and the other diode emits light in the infrared light at the wavelength of 940 nm.

The working of the oximeter is based on the fact that the oxyhaemoglobin (HbO2 - haemoglobin with oxygen) and deoxyhaemoglobin (Hb – a form of haemoglobin without oxygen) absorb the two lights differently. The light absorption of oxyhaemoglobin is higher for infrared, i.e., at 940 nm. Similarly, the light absorption of deoxyhaemoglobin is higher for the red light, i.e., at 660 nm. The photo detector on the other end measures the amount of unabsorbed light of each wavelength passing through the finger and the microprocessor does the further calculations.

The microprocessor first computes the concentration of oxyhaemoglobin and deoxyhaemoglobin, and then the percentage of oxyhaemoglobin, which is the arterial blood oxygen saturation, which is then displayed on the screen as SpO2.

Arterial Blood Oxygen Saturation OR Oxygen Concentration OR SpO2 = HbO* 100 / HbO2 + Hb

What to Look for in an Oximeter?

The kind of specifications you want in your oximeter would depend on how you expect to use it. There are basically 4 types of oximeters available in the market.
  • Fingertip Oximeter – This is the simplest and cheapest option if all you want to do is a spot check your oxygen concentration. It runs on battery and the probe has a screen on itself that displays the oxygen levels and the heart rate.
  • Handheld Oximeter – The probe of this oximeter is connected to the screen via a cord. It can be used for both spot check and continuous monitoring. These are widely used by the paramedics.

  • Wrist Pulse Oximeter – Ideal of continuous use, this one has the probe is pinned onto the index finger and the screen is worn around the wrist like a watch. 

  • Tabletop Oximeter – These are usually used in hospitals. They can be used at home if the patient is being nursed at home. These are larger devices with a probe connected to a bright LED screen that is placed on a tabletop at the bedside. Since the table top oximeters are used for constant monitoring, they have a long battery life of 14-16 hours. They can be completely recharged within 4-5 hours and also have a memory to store the stats recorded during several hours for analysis at a later date.
The larger and more sophisticated oximeters are highly precise as compared to their portable counterparts. The portable fingertip and write-worn oximeters are known to show a deviation of up to ±2% in the blood oxygen saturation.

It would be really smart of you to look for an oximeter that runs on electricity instead of batteries if you are going to need constant monitoring. It will save you the trouble of recharging or replacing the batteries again and again.

The fingertip oximeters are very handy and widely used. Most brands offer very versatile fingertip oximeters that can be used by children as well as adults with the utmost ease. To get accurate readings, it is very important that the oximeter probe fits your finger properly. Too loose or too tight, it will display incorrect results. The Nonin Go2 can accommodate fingers as thin as 0.3” and as thick as 1”, making it an ideal oximeter for both children and adults.

Other Specifications to Look For

  • Alarm – Having an alarm in your oximeter would be an added advantage. They produce high pitch and low pitch sounds for increasing and decreasing oxygen saturation respectively.
  • Warning mechanism – Some oximeters come with a warning light or produce an audible alert beep indicating some sort of interference or erroneous readings.
  • Display – Pick an oximeter with a good, clear and vibrant screen so that you can read the results correctly.

Lastly, discuss it with your doctor what kind of oximeter would be the best for you. Once you buy it, take it to your doctor’s office and compare its readings with those of the doctor’s oximeter. This will validate the functionality and accuracy of your oximeter. Make sure it comes with an easy return policy, just in case it turns out to be defective or inaccurate.

How to Choose the Perfect Pedometer?

Are you planning to buy a new pedometer? Do the vast variety and the technical aspects of pedometers baffle you? Well, then you have landed at the right place! Today we are going to talk about what specs a good pedometer should have? But before we start, let’s take a look at the device itself and how could it help you improve your health.

What is a Pedometer?

A pedometer is a compact, pager-sized device that measures the distance travelled by the wearer while they walk. It does so by taking into account the number of steps taken while walking. A pedometer is embedded with motion sensors to identify vertical moves during ambulation. It is usually worn on the waist or hip. Some pedometers can be worn around the ankle as well.

Motivates the Users to Walk

Many a pedometer case study conducted around the world revealed that pedometer can encourage people to walk. The device is an economical and efficient way to motivate the people with a sedentary lifestyle to get some exercise. A brisk walk at 3 mph for half an hour every day lowers the risk of heart ailments, maintains the blood pressure at healthy levels, reduces the waist girth and enhances the BMI of the person.

What Does the Pedometer Do?

We often walk 5,000 feet per day on an average. It takes about 10,000 feet to stay fit and in shape, whereas 15000 feet for consistent weight loss. But how do we measure each step that we take? That’s where the pedometers come into the picture. Pedometers give the users an insight into the step count and calories expended while walking.

The pedometer case study results published in the Harvard Letter presents quantifiable results. The outcome indicates that people using pedometers walked at least 2,000 feet more than those who weren’t using the device, upping the levels of their physical activity levels by an impressive 27 percent.

Researchers are still hazy about how and why a pedometer works when it comes to encouraging the users to get off their feet and keep them going. It goes without saying; this would be a hot topic for future pedometer case studies.

So this was all about pedometer’s role in keeping you on your feet. Here is what the pedometer you buy should have.

Pedometers have been around since a very long time. They have evolved a lot from being a simple, mechanical device to a compact and precise electronic gadget. The features that you would want in your pedometer shall differ with your needs and your budget. For example, if you just need to get motivated and start walking, a simple pedometer with a step counter would suffice. But if you are seriously considering keeping a track of calories spent, a pedometer with a calorie counter would be a wise choice.

·                Piezoelectric Accelerometer

A piezoelectric accelerometer is a device that measures the changes in the acceleration of a body that is in motion. This is what your pedometer packs within itself that measures how many steps you have taken and how much distance did you cover.
Pedometers embedded with the piezoelectric accelerometer measures the changes in acceleration and vibrations with better precision and accuracy as compared the pendulum pedometers. Not to mention they don’t make the clicking sounds and are much quieter. Besides, if you expect your pendulum pedometer to give you accurate step count, it is necessary that you wear it on your waist in vertical position. Nevertheless, the pendulum pedometers cannot beat the precision offered by their counterparts with a piezoelectric accelerometer.

·                Processing Power

The accelerometers just sense the movements. It’s the processing power like that of a smartphone which interprets the data logged in by the accelerometer and converts it into information such as steps, calories, distance, speed etc. To be able to know all these associated variables, it’s vital that your pedometer uses smartphone technology.

·                Memory for Data Storage and Retrieval

Most modern pedometers come with an in-built memory that stores your information such as step count, calorie count, activity time, speed and distance for anything between 3 to 30 days. Such pedometers get automatically reset daily so that you do not need to worry about forgetting to reset before you start to run.
You could connect your pedometer to your smartphone or computer and synchronize the data. You could then take a look at the graphic interpretation such as graphs and charts of all the data gathered by your pedometer and keep a tab on your progress towards your fitness goal. This also helps you discover if your efforts are falling short somewhere and you need to buck up.

·                The Extras

Apart from the step counter and a clock/stopwatch, the high-end pedometers have an additional range of features. The Fitbit Zip which allow you to set a challenge and earn badges when you completely them successfully. You could compete with your friends and other Fitbit users, which is a great way for everyone to stay motivated. Fitbit Zip also keeps track of your food intake.

·                Your Budget

Your budget matters a lot when you choose your pick. The market is flooded with pedometers that are as cheap as INR 300 and as expensive as INR 4000.

The Fitbit Zip is loaded with features and costs INR 3990. On the other hand, the Dr. Morepen Pedometer is a somewhat low end as compared to the Fitbit Zip and costs INR 299. It all depends on how much money you are willing to shell out and the features you expect in your device. So basically, it’s the trade-off between the price and features.

What pedometer is good for you is a very subjective question. One thing we can say for sure is that a pedometer can boost your morale and give you an enormous push towards a healthier lifestyle. We hope this write-up helps you identify your needs and chose the perfect pedometer.

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