Blood glucose monitoring vs urine testing is a comparison many people make when they suspect they might have high blood sugar. While both tests can be indicators of the presence of diabetes, they produce results that offer diagnostically different information.
Neither test should rule out disease at the expense of the other. Blood glucose monitoring provides real-time results for blood sugar changes, while urine tests can assess a person’s risk factors for diabetes as they progress closer to a diagnosis. Continue reading to learn about these two tests and when each is most effective at monitoring certain conditions.
What is Blood Glucose Monitoring?
They often perform blood glucose monitoring with a glucose meter, which is a tool designed to help those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes keep track of their blood sugar in real-time, even at night. These meters take blood readings at regular intervals, sometimes as frequently as every 5 minutes.
This amount of data is useful in detecting trends in a patient’s blood sugar compared to their diet, the time of day, and other factors. Depending on the device you use, they may collect the data differently.
For instance, a subdermal implant can measure blood glucose. When implanted just under the skin on your belly or arm, it can monitor glucose levels and transmit them to a monitor, kind of like a pager, which the user keeps with them. These devices often take readings by the minute, providing precise tracking. If glucose levels become dangerously high or low, the machine will beep.
Such a device is not a substitute for the more conventional meters that measure blood glucose with a finger prick. However, for those with irregular glucose levels that shift rapidly, especially at night, an implanted sensor could be a valuable asset.
Blood glucose monitoring is important for people who have diabetes or who have some of its prominent symptoms. These include:
- Persistent thirst
- Increased urination
- Blurry vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Slow healing
- Chronic fatigue
Blood glucose monitoring is important not only for checking your levels in terms of your overall health but also to make sure that you can perform certain tasks. Before meals, before exercising, before you go to bed, and before you drive are four common times to monitor your blood glucose levels.
Urine testing for diabetes measures the glucose present in a person’s urine. The science behind the test involves the way our bodies process sugars. Insulin transports glucose from your blood to the cells that need it. When too much glucose is present in the blood, your body flushes out the excess in your urine. This is why people with diabetes often present with increased urination, which in turn causes persistent or unquenchable thirst.
Urine glucose tests cannot measure the exact amount of glucose in your blood. This is why blood glucose monitoring is necessary for those with diabetes. Urine testing simply tells a doctor if you have excess glucose in your urine, which is a good sign that you may develop or already have diabetes.
For this reason, urine glucose tests cannot be used to diagnose diabetes. Instead, they are combined with accurate blood testing to confirm a person’s glucose levels. If they cannot perform a blood test for various reasons, a urine glucose test could evaluate a person’s condition, combined with their other risk factors and family history.
Considerations for Urine Tests
Urine tests for glucose are not as sensitive or accurate as a full blood test. As such, urine tests can often produce false results. Due to the time it takes your body to process glucose to the point that it is present in your urine, the levels displayed on your results are hours older than the testing time. This can produce confusing results.
Other factors that can impact test results include some medications and Vitamin C supplements. Even the lighting conditions that the strip is observed under can produce a misreading. This is why your doctor will not likely rely on a urine test to diagnose diabetes if a blood test is possible.
Urine glucose tests have no known risks. They do not require special preparation. A healthcare provider will simply give you the kit that instructs you on how to collect urine at the office. The test requires a clean sample of urine, which requires the patient to wash their hands as well as clean their genital area to ensure an uncontaminated sample.
Urine glucose tests are often performed during a complete urinalysis. This could include other related tests such as urine ketone testing, which tests for high blood sugar in people with type 1 diabetes.
*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services offered by Speedy Sticks.