Things To Consider When Choosing a Glucose Meter
There are currently more than 37 million Americans living with diabetes, and most of us are required to test our blood sugar multiple times a day. While some have moved on to the real-time ease and benefits of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) solutions, the majority of folks with diabetes still rely on glucose meters and test strips to measure blood sugar each day.
While all glucose meters do the same thing, measure blood sugar, and pretty much work in the same way, by using an electrical circuit to gauge the amount of glucose in a blood sample placed on a test strip, they’re not all the same.
Even small differences between meters can turn into big pros or deal-breaking cons, depending on a person’s age, testing schedule, dexterity, vision, budget, and comfort level drawing blood. In this post, we’ll offer up some tips and suggestions on how to choose a glucose meter. The good news is that most meters today do an outstanding job of providing accurate, reliable blood sugar readings. Which one you select really depends on the factors most important to you. What follows are some things to consider.
How much does a glucose meter cost?
The good news is that glucose meters are generally affordable. In fact, they can be found for under $15 at reliable diabetic supply companies, like Diabetic Warehouse. But meters can also range in the $40 to $50 dollar range, depending on the number of features you desire.
It’s also important to remember that a glucose meter is a one-time investment. The test strips and lancets you’ll need to perform those daily tests, on the other hand, must be disposed of after each use and are an ongoing expense. So, if cost is a major consideration, how much you pay for test strips and lancets is probably more important than the cost of the glucose meter itself.
Some health insurance plans will cover all or a portion of the costs for specific glucose meter brands. If you have health insurance, be sure to check with your plan to see if you’re covered. If so, it can certainly help sway that decision.
How hard is it to draw a blood sample?
Some people have an easier time pricking a finger and taking a blood sample than others. Often the difficulty is due to issues gaining an adequate drop (volume) of blood. Glucose meters require different size samples to deliver reliable blood sugar measurements, so if you have a hard time drawing blood, you’re probably better off choosing a meter that requires a very small sample size.
For instance, the OneTouch Ultra 2 Meter needs only 0.1 microliters of blood to provide accurate readings. The Freestyle Lite Meter requires a 0.3 microliter sample size (still extremely small) and is also available in a starter kit that includes the meter, 100 test strips, 100 lancets, a lancing device, alcohol swabs, and a carrying case.
Do I need to calibrate my glucose meter?
Some glucose meters must be calibrated with each new box of test strips used, which is done by applying a control solution to a test strip. It’s usually an easy process, but many glucose meters today don’t require calibration, which means you have one less thing to worry about in your daily diabetes management plan.
How user-friendly do I need my glucose meter to be?
This is one of the more important factors to consider, particularly for seniors or anyone who has vision or dexterity issues. How user-friendly a meter is can impact how effectively you obtain accurate results. Some things you might want to look for include:
- How big are the numbers on the display? Glucose meters are purposefully small to make them easy to carry, but some have larger digital displays than others. If you have vision issues, you’ll want a meter that shows your readings in big, bold numbers.
- Is the unit backlit? Some are and some aren’t. It can make a big difference when testing in low light or at night.
- Does the meter have a port light, such as the Accu-Chek Guide Glucose Meter, to illuminate the slot where test strips are inserted. This can make it a lot easier to insert strips without damaging or contaminating them.
- Do you need audible help? For those with more serious vision issues or who want to easily share their results with family members, meters like the Prodigy Autocode Talking Glucose Meter audibly reads each test in English or Spanish, as well as displaying results on large digital display. Others, like the Accu-Chek Aviva Meter, provide audible alarms to remind you when it’s time to take a test.
- Is the meter easy to maintain – cleaning, switching batteries, etc.
Do I want a meter that logs results for me?
Another consideration when selecting a glucose meter is whether or not you want your tests digitally recorded. Some people still prefer to log their test results in a logbook, but most glucose meters today will automatically record and store a high volume of tests, anywhere from 150 to 1000 measurements. The TRUE Metrix Self-Monitoring Glucose Meter, for example, can store up to 500 tests with time and date, and will also provide 7, 14, and 30-day blood sugar averages, making it easy to track your results, spot blood sugar trends, and share data with your physician. Some meters also download data to a smartphone app for easy analysis and collaboration with your physician.
Do I Want Alternate Site Testing?
Testing with finger pricks can lead to sensitivity and discomfort. This is why many glucose meters also allow for alternate site testing. You can draw blood samples from areas like the forearm, palm, upper arm, calf, and thigh to give those fingertips a break. If you’re prone to sensitivity at the testing site, a meter with alternate site testing capabilities is worth exploring.
What about testing my ketone levels
If you’re prone to high blood sugar levels, you might also want a meter that measures ketones. Ketoacidosis is a very serious complication of diabetes, in which the body begins to break down fat as fuel, producing acids in the bloodstream called ketones. Too many ketones in the blood is toxic and can even be deadly. Usually, ketones are measured with a simple home urine test. However, some glucose meters are also able to measure ketones for added peace-of-mind.
What does my doctor recommend?
Does your diabetes physician have a recommendation on which glucose meter might work best for you? If so, there’s probably a good reason for the preference because your doctor should be intimately familiar with your diabetes management needs and challenges. As with most decisions regarding your diabetes health and treatment, speaking with your personal physician is a great place to start.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.