Monitoring Your Health at Home

Reviewed Jul 18, 2017

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Summary

  • Home-based or portable health monitoring equipment lets you participate in your own health care.
  • Most portable monitoring systems are not costly or difficult to use.

Chronic medical conditions may not interfere with your daily life, but can add to your stress. Just knowing you have asthma or high blood pressure might make you anxious. Even if you’re taking medication, there may be other things you could do to keep the situation under control.

If you have diabetes, asthma, chronic lung disease, or high blood pressure, your doctor might want you to use home-based or portable medical monitoring equipment as part of your medical treatment plan.
 
Not everyone can—or wants to—use these devices, but for those who do, they play an important role in managing one’s own health care.

Most of these systems are not painful, costly or difficult to use. If used correctly, they may head off problems or save visits to the doctor. Here are some common kinds of health monitoring equipment.

Blood-glucose meters

People with diabetes—insulin-dependent or not—monitor their own blood-glucose levels, with help from a small machine. To keep diabetes under control, you draw a small amount of blood from a finger several times a day, using a machine that gives an instant report.

These monitors help you keep your diabetes under control, by giving you and your health care provider valuable information on your blood sugar levels over time. This information can be used to adjust your medication dosage and timing. It is also helpful to see how eating patterns affect your blood sugar levels. If diabetes gets out of control, you might suffer complications that are not obvious right away, but could cause very serious problems later.

Some blood-glucose monitors are small enough for you to carry in a pocket or purse. Others work well on a tabletop at home. Your doctor can help you find the monitor that works best for you.

Oximeters

People with respiratory and cardiac problems—including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—sometimes must keep track of their blood-oxygen levels and heart rate between visits to the doctor.

Tiny fingertip pulse oximeters spot-check saturation levels using light. They do not break the skin. You can buy them at medical supply stores. 

Electrocardiographic monitor

Physicians sometimes want patients to send data from their pacemakers to their office or to a monitoring center, using special equipment hooked up to a telephone. Your doctor will provide the equipment and train you.

Portable blood pressure equipment

You can keep track of your blood pressure at home, with the help of an inexpensive automatic cuff.

You can use a portable wrist monitor, or a stationary model you can set up at home. Wrap the cuff around your wrist, hit the start button, and then watch for numbers to appear on the screen. Some monitors have serial ports so you can transfer data to your computer to keep track or report to your physician.

Medical alert devices

For your peace of mind and theirs, get a medical alert device for a loved one if he or she is dealing with a serious health condition, and might be alone.

When the button on a medical alert device is pushed, an electronic signal activates a telephone call to a dispatcher. That person will call back to verify the emergency and/or contact local emergency responders.

Equipment is inexpensive, but requires a moderate monthly service fee. Some devices are attached to lanyards that can be worn around the neck. Others are worn as pins or bracelets.

Check with your local hospital social work department for a list of services available in your community. Or, subscribe to a national service.

Low-tech information devices

Medical alert bracelets and other specially marked jewelry tell medical responders the wearer has a particular health concern, such as diabetes, allergies, a heart condition or certain medications. A first responder may need that information to make the right call, and make it quickly. You can buy this jewelry at medical supply stores. 

Some local fire departments provide magnets or cards with space to write important emergency information. Fill in the blanks, then place the magnet or card in your wallet, or in an obvious place at home. You might want to put one on the refrigerator, on a medicine cabinet door or next to a telephone.

You can also make your own cards listing vital information, chronic medical conditions, medication, allergies, plus family and physician contact information.

Of course, the information is only useful if it is up to date.

With the help of these devices, you will know you are actively participating in your own care, or helping others. 

Resources

American Diabetes Association
800-DIABETES (800-342-2383)
www.diabetes.org

American Heart Association
800-AHA-USA-1 (800-242-8721)
www.hearthub.org/

National Diabetes Education Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://ndep.nih.gov/i-have-diabetes/

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Cohen, Paula Hartman. 2009. “Getting Help When You Really Need It.” Healthy Life, The Recorder, vol.9 no.1: 13-14; Burge, MD, Mark. 2001. "Lack of Compliance With Home Blood Glucose Monitoring Predicts Hospitalization in Diabetes." Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association, vol. 24 no. 8: 1502-1503; Northampton Fire Department, Northampton, Mass.; New England Medical Supply, Northampton, Mass.

Summary

  • Home-based or portable health monitoring equipment lets you participate in your own health care.
  • Most portable monitoring systems are not costly or difficult to use.

Chronic medical conditions may not interfere with your daily life, but can add to your stress. Just knowing you have asthma or high blood pressure might make you anxious. Even if you’re taking medication, there may be other things you could do to keep the situation under control.

If you have diabetes, asthma, chronic lung disease, or high blood pressure, your doctor might want you to use home-based or portable medical monitoring equipment as part of your medical treatment plan.
 
Not everyone can—or wants to—use these devices, but for those who do, they play an important role in managing one’s own health care.

Most of these systems are not painful, costly or difficult to use. If used correctly, they may head off problems or save visits to the doctor. Here are some common kinds of health monitoring equipment.

Blood-glucose meters

People with diabetes—insulin-dependent or not—monitor their own blood-glucose levels, with help from a small machine. To keep diabetes under control, you draw a small amount of blood from a finger several times a day, using a machine that gives an instant report.

These monitors help you keep your diabetes under control, by giving you and your health care provider valuable information on your blood sugar levels over time. This information can be used to adjust your medication dosage and timing. It is also helpful to see how eating patterns affect your blood sugar levels. If diabetes gets out of control, you might suffer complications that are not obvious right away, but could cause very serious problems later.

Some blood-glucose monitors are small enough for you to carry in a pocket or purse. Others work well on a tabletop at home. Your doctor can help you find the monitor that works best for you.

Oximeters

People with respiratory and cardiac problems—including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—sometimes must keep track of their blood-oxygen levels and heart rate between visits to the doctor.

Tiny fingertip pulse oximeters spot-check saturation levels using light. They do not break the skin. You can buy them at medical supply stores. 

Electrocardiographic monitor

Physicians sometimes want patients to send data from their pacemakers to their office or to a monitoring center, using special equipment hooked up to a telephone. Your doctor will provide the equipment and train you.

Portable blood pressure equipment

You can keep track of your blood pressure at home, with the help of an inexpensive automatic cuff.

You can use a portable wrist monitor, or a stationary model you can set up at home. Wrap the cuff around your wrist, hit the start button, and then watch for numbers to appear on the screen. Some monitors have serial ports so you can transfer data to your computer to keep track or report to your physician.

Medical alert devices

For your peace of mind and theirs, get a medical alert device for a loved one if he or she is dealing with a serious health condition, and might be alone.

When the button on a medical alert device is pushed, an electronic signal activates a telephone call to a dispatcher. That person will call back to verify the emergency and/or contact local emergency responders.

Equipment is inexpensive, but requires a moderate monthly service fee. Some devices are attached to lanyards that can be worn around the neck. Others are worn as pins or bracelets.

Check with your local hospital social work department for a list of services available in your community. Or, subscribe to a national service.

Low-tech information devices

Medical alert bracelets and other specially marked jewelry tell medical responders the wearer has a particular health concern, such as diabetes, allergies, a heart condition or certain medications. A first responder may need that information to make the right call, and make it quickly. You can buy this jewelry at medical supply stores. 

Some local fire departments provide magnets or cards with space to write important emergency information. Fill in the blanks, then place the magnet or card in your wallet, or in an obvious place at home. You might want to put one on the refrigerator, on a medicine cabinet door or next to a telephone.

You can also make your own cards listing vital information, chronic medical conditions, medication, allergies, plus family and physician contact information.

Of course, the information is only useful if it is up to date.

With the help of these devices, you will know you are actively participating in your own care, or helping others. 

Resources

American Diabetes Association
800-DIABETES (800-342-2383)
www.diabetes.org

American Heart Association
800-AHA-USA-1 (800-242-8721)
www.hearthub.org/

National Diabetes Education Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://ndep.nih.gov/i-have-diabetes/

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Cohen, Paula Hartman. 2009. “Getting Help When You Really Need It.” Healthy Life, The Recorder, vol.9 no.1: 13-14; Burge, MD, Mark. 2001. "Lack of Compliance With Home Blood Glucose Monitoring Predicts Hospitalization in Diabetes." Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association, vol. 24 no. 8: 1502-1503; Northampton Fire Department, Northampton, Mass.; New England Medical Supply, Northampton, Mass.

Summary

  • Home-based or portable health monitoring equipment lets you participate in your own health care.
  • Most portable monitoring systems are not costly or difficult to use.

Chronic medical conditions may not interfere with your daily life, but can add to your stress. Just knowing you have asthma or high blood pressure might make you anxious. Even if you’re taking medication, there may be other things you could do to keep the situation under control.

If you have diabetes, asthma, chronic lung disease, or high blood pressure, your doctor might want you to use home-based or portable medical monitoring equipment as part of your medical treatment plan.
 
Not everyone can—or wants to—use these devices, but for those who do, they play an important role in managing one’s own health care.

Most of these systems are not painful, costly or difficult to use. If used correctly, they may head off problems or save visits to the doctor. Here are some common kinds of health monitoring equipment.

Blood-glucose meters

People with diabetes—insulin-dependent or not—monitor their own blood-glucose levels, with help from a small machine. To keep diabetes under control, you draw a small amount of blood from a finger several times a day, using a machine that gives an instant report.

These monitors help you keep your diabetes under control, by giving you and your health care provider valuable information on your blood sugar levels over time. This information can be used to adjust your medication dosage and timing. It is also helpful to see how eating patterns affect your blood sugar levels. If diabetes gets out of control, you might suffer complications that are not obvious right away, but could cause very serious problems later.

Some blood-glucose monitors are small enough for you to carry in a pocket or purse. Others work well on a tabletop at home. Your doctor can help you find the monitor that works best for you.

Oximeters

People with respiratory and cardiac problems—including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—sometimes must keep track of their blood-oxygen levels and heart rate between visits to the doctor.

Tiny fingertip pulse oximeters spot-check saturation levels using light. They do not break the skin. You can buy them at medical supply stores. 

Electrocardiographic monitor

Physicians sometimes want patients to send data from their pacemakers to their office or to a monitoring center, using special equipment hooked up to a telephone. Your doctor will provide the equipment and train you.

Portable blood pressure equipment

You can keep track of your blood pressure at home, with the help of an inexpensive automatic cuff.

You can use a portable wrist monitor, or a stationary model you can set up at home. Wrap the cuff around your wrist, hit the start button, and then watch for numbers to appear on the screen. Some monitors have serial ports so you can transfer data to your computer to keep track or report to your physician.

Medical alert devices

For your peace of mind and theirs, get a medical alert device for a loved one if he or she is dealing with a serious health condition, and might be alone.

When the button on a medical alert device is pushed, an electronic signal activates a telephone call to a dispatcher. That person will call back to verify the emergency and/or contact local emergency responders.

Equipment is inexpensive, but requires a moderate monthly service fee. Some devices are attached to lanyards that can be worn around the neck. Others are worn as pins or bracelets.

Check with your local hospital social work department for a list of services available in your community. Or, subscribe to a national service.

Low-tech information devices

Medical alert bracelets and other specially marked jewelry tell medical responders the wearer has a particular health concern, such as diabetes, allergies, a heart condition or certain medications. A first responder may need that information to make the right call, and make it quickly. You can buy this jewelry at medical supply stores. 

Some local fire departments provide magnets or cards with space to write important emergency information. Fill in the blanks, then place the magnet or card in your wallet, or in an obvious place at home. You might want to put one on the refrigerator, on a medicine cabinet door or next to a telephone.

You can also make your own cards listing vital information, chronic medical conditions, medication, allergies, plus family and physician contact information.

Of course, the information is only useful if it is up to date.

With the help of these devices, you will know you are actively participating in your own care, or helping others. 

Resources

American Diabetes Association
800-DIABETES (800-342-2383)
www.diabetes.org

American Heart Association
800-AHA-USA-1 (800-242-8721)
www.hearthub.org/

National Diabetes Education Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://ndep.nih.gov/i-have-diabetes/

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Cohen, Paula Hartman. 2009. “Getting Help When You Really Need It.” Healthy Life, The Recorder, vol.9 no.1: 13-14; Burge, MD, Mark. 2001. "Lack of Compliance With Home Blood Glucose Monitoring Predicts Hospitalization in Diabetes." Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association, vol. 24 no. 8: 1502-1503; Northampton Fire Department, Northampton, Mass.; New England Medical Supply, Northampton, Mass.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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