Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

An oral glucose tolerance test, often referred to as OGTT, is a procedure that is often used to diagnose diabetes. Glucose is a type of sugar that is found in the bloodstream that provides energy to the body. Insulin is a naturally-produced hormone that moves the sugar from the bloodstream into the body's cells. An OGTT tests how efficiently the body's insulin performs this metabolic process. Before conducting the test, the physician will take the person's medical history. Additionally, the physician will want to know of any medications that the patient is currently taking. Certain medications, such as steroids or diuretics, can affect the test's results. The OGTT is the more common method for testing the patient's sugar tolerance. However, on rare occasions, a physician may have the patient undergo an intravenous glucose tolerance test, or IGTT. In this procedure, glucose is injected directly into the individual's vein. In an oral glucose tolerance test, the patient drinks a beverage that contains a specific amount of glucose.

Before taking the OGTT, the patient must fast for about ten to sixteen hours. This means that he can't eat or drink anything but water. Since caffeine and tobacco can affect the results, the patient is advised to refrain from coffee and smoking before the procedure. The OGTT can be taken at the physician's office or clinic. First, blood is taken from the patient. This sample provides a baseline of the sugar levels in the bloodstream. Then the patient drinks the glucose-laced beverage which may be flavored. As part of the oral glucose tolerance test, blood will be drawn five times at periodic intervals over a three-hour period. When everything is working properly, the sugar levels will go up after the patient drinks the beverage. But as time goes on, the metabolic process causes the sugar levels to subside. When someone has diabetes, the sugar levels subside at a much slower rate. If the OGTT is inconclusive, the physician may arrange to have it taken again on another day. Some people have side effects from drinking the sugary beverage. Patients sometimes get nauseous and may even throw up.

The oral glucose tolerance test is routinely given to pregnant women to test for gestational diabetes. The procedure usually takes place when the woman is in her 24th to 28th week of the pregnancy. Though gestational diabetes only affects a very small percentage of women, the condition is serious enough that medical professionals want to be sure to diagnose and treat it when it does occur. A woman experiences gestational diabetes when her body doesn't produce the insulin she needs to metabolize the sugar levels. Researchers believe that hormones in the placenta seem to inhibit the insulin production. Instead of being absorbed into the cells, the glucose concentrates in the bloodstream. This is called hyperglycemia. The baby gets too much glucose, too, which causes the infant's pancreas to produce excess insulin. This results in a condition known as macosomia or "fat baby." The infant may weigh more than he should. Unfortunately, the condition may cause health problems later on. Babies of moms with gestational diabetes are often prone to obesity and suffer from type 2 diabetes. This is why it's so important for women to have the oral glucose tolerance test. When the condition is diagnosed, she can work with her health care team to monitor the pregnancy.

Though getting a positive result for gestational diabetes may be frightening, the health professionals will monitor the rest of the pregnancy and do everything possible to protect the unborn baby. Fortunately, gestational diabetes usually goes away once the baby is born. However, once a woman has had this condition, she is more likely to have it again in future pregnancies. The oral glucose tolerance test is now a routine procedure for every pregnancy. This is another reason it's so important for women to monitor their weight and body mass index (BMI). Good nutrition and a physical fitness regimen may help the individual avoid the condition should she become pregnant again. A great many mysterious events occur in a woman's body beginning with the very moment of conception. The psalmist praised God with these words: "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth" (Psalm 139:15). The author is talking about the development of a new human being.

As indicated above, an intravenous or oral glucose tolerance test is most often used to diagnose either diabetes or gestational diabetes. However, the results sometimes indicate other health issues. For example, a tumor in the pituitary gland may cause the body to manufacture too much of a hormone called cortisol. This may result in a diagnosis of Cushing syndrome. Additional information on this condition can be found at online medical sites. As with any condition, the earlier a proper diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can begin. A recently-diagnosed diabetic will want to find out as much as possible about the condition. Many clinics offer classes and workshops that cover such topics as proper nutrition and common side effects. Most diabetics are able to control the condition through the use of monitors that track glucose levels and medication. Diabetics with more severe health problems may need to use an insulin pump. The oral glucose tolerance test may not be pleasant, but it's not something to fear. If the metabolism process is working as it should, then the patient is not a diabetic. If there are problems, these can be evaluated and a treatment plan can be devised.

Free Glucose Monitors

Blood glucose monitors are an important tool for keeping diabetes under control and for providing important information to doctors about the status of their patients. Testing blood sugar frequently throughout the day provides a clearer picture as to how often glucose is in the 'target' range for any particular patient. Those who take insulin may use a monitor three times a day or more depending on the particular need. Having a monitor on hand is necessary to insure proper treatment of diabetes for both adults and children. There is a wide array of diabetic meters to choose from that can be purchased or there are free glucose monitors. In order to get the best test reading available for any patient, it is necessary to know how to choose the right equipment for each need.

Several things to take into consideration when shopping for a monitor is the cost, accuracy level, and required maintenance of the product. Blood glucose monitors should also be considered for their ease of use and amount of time it takes to receive a test result. Many times, the cost of a testing unit is covered by insurance which provides free glucose monitors along with diabetic supplies to the insured. However, patients should never take for granted that their insurance covers any diabetic equipment or supplies. Always check with a company and get pre-approval beforehand in order to circumvent any costly mistakes. There may be restrictions on certain types or a certain amount that is allowable. Also, check to see if the insurance company pays for testing strips that are needed for any particular meter. Sometimes a monitor might be relatively inexpensive but may use very expensive testing strips which can add up to a hefty bill.

If a patient must necessarily pay for a meter out-of-pocket, then he or she may be able to find a good deal through rebates or trade-in programs. Also, some sources provide free glucose monitors to those who cannot afford them. Accuracy is another concern for patients who must carefully maintain correct sugar levels. Most meters now being sold are generally accurate, but patients should consistently check their units to make sure of continued accuracy. One way to check for accuracy is to check the meter at the same time blood is drawn from the arm during a doctor's visit. Testing the sample within a minute or two of each other should provide a very accurate reading to compare. Another way to insure accuracy is to conduct maintenance on the meter periodically. Dirty, old or mishandled units can produce inaccurate readings, so proper maintenance such as cleaning is very important. Some units require more care that others, so choosing one that requires less care is usually a realistic choice for most patients.

Some meters are easier to use than others and require a certain amount of blood drawn to determine a reading. The units also come in various sizes which make them more or less portable. Even though most units today are generally portable, a child for instance, may need to have access to one that is easily managed and interpreted. Issues such as readability and use of test strips are important concerns in choosing among the many blood glucose monitors. Sometimes it is helpful to ask a doctor, pharmacist or another patient about one that is preferred. First hand recommendations can be valuable in finding a good meter for the particular use required. "I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; (Psalm 31:7)

The amount of time it takes to receive the test information can be very important to diabetics, especially if they are experiencing a dangerous dip in sugar levels. Most modern units provide results in a minute or less, with some meters showing results in as little as five seconds. Compare meters to find the one that offers the best testing features for any particular patient. Other options that may be helpful to patients are smart memory features, instructional information, and audio features. Some units provide smart memory features that will store up to a certain number of test results. Records can be downloaded into computers for management and storage. A variety of smart meters also offer the choice of several languages within the unit. Instructional material such as videos or CDs may accompany some units which allow a patient to get up to speed on the use of a monitor more quickly.

Audio features are available on some meters for patients who are visually impaired, which is not uncommon in diabetics. Verbal instructions can be activated as well as test results received. 'Speaking' units are also available in Spanish or other languages. This is an invaluable option for many patients. The more features or advanced options a meter has, the more expensive it can be, causing many patients to have a difficult time in affording what is needed. Through some government programs as well as private organizations, qualified patients can receive free glucose monitors as well as diabetic supplies. Diabetic patients must commit to vigilant testing in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Blood glucose monitors are necessary in helping patients effectively fight the debilitating symptoms of diabetes.

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