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Blood glucose tester, United States, 1999

Blood glucose tester, United States, 1999

Credits: Science Museum

Automated measurement of the blood sugar glucose was developed in the late 20th century. It meant people with diabetes could monitor their sugar levels with unprecedented accuracy in their homes. It is essential for people with diabetes to track glucose levels in their bodies. This can give them control over the condition. A pin prick of blood is placed onto one of the paper strips in the machine. The ‘Espirit’ is made by Bayer. It has ten strips set in a disc. This removes the fiddly nature of inserting a paper strip each time, which was the case with many other meters. The machine then gives a reading on the digital screen. If blood sugar levels are too high then the person can become hyperglycaemic. They can fall into a coma unless treated with injections of insulin. The diabetic becomes hot and confused if blood sugar levels are too low through lack of food or overexertion. They can become comatose if the levels drop low enough.

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Glossary: diabetes

This term refers to any form of metabolic disorder characterized by extreme thirst and excess urine production.

Glossary: blood glucose meter

A machine that tests the level of glucose in the blood. Blood is deposited on a special strip which is then inserted into the machine to give a reading.