Sweat-Inducing Sensor Could Make Blood Samples Obsolete
Scientists have recently used medical sensors to collect and sample sweat. Collecting this fluid allows them to analyze a patient’s body far more thoroughly than most other methods ever could. Analyzing sweat can often yield results similar to those obtained by collecting blood, but without the invasive procedure.
The one problem in all of this was making people sweat. Other than cardio exercises or going for a few sprints, there was no reliable way to stimulate sweat glands properly. That has now changed, thanks to a new prototype product developed by researchers. A new sensor the size of a regular Band-Aid can stimulate sweat glands on a small patch of one’s skin. This means it can collect sweat from a small part of the body without requiring that the wearer exert himself physically. It is an ideal solution for us lazy people who still wish to check up on our health.
This small sensor uses a microcurrent (0.2mA) to send the chemical carbachol into the upper layer of the user’s skin. That is all there is needed before sweat is produced and the sensor can start measuring the electrolytes in the sweat. It is a very practical solution for gathering important data from one’s body without the need for blood work. Monitoring blood continuously is both impractical and impossible, whereas one can easily stimulate sweat glands multiple times throughout the day without side effects.
Sweat also has a much later “expiration date” when it comes to monitoring vitals. The scientists have determined that averages with a sample can provide them with valuable information for up to five hours once it has been collected. That is quite a significant development. For any type of health monitoring situation that requires continuous monitoring, collecting sweat would now seem to be the preferable option.
As it turns out, this sensor may become commercially viable a lot sooner than most people anticipate. Eccrine Systems is the company responsible for refining and commercializing the sweat-inducing sensor, and it is working on it feverishly. The company was co-founded by one of the researchers responsible for generating this solution in the first place. This is a very interesting concept that may change the way we think about healthcare altogether.
For the time being, it remains to be seen when these sensors will become commonplace. This is definitely a solution that will make the healthcare sector a lot more efficient. Sweat samples will not be replacing blood work anytime soon, but they can be useful in their own right. It will be interesting to see how this new sweat-inducing sensor affects the way we conduct regular health checkups. It is not unlikely that the sensor would be embedded within consumer electronics à la Fitbit in the future.
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