Glucose Monitoring Devices
Finding a glucometer to suit your needs
Step 1: Know your needs
If you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes, or if you have trouble keeping your blood glucose under control and have frequent changes to your treatment regimen, you might consider investing in a glucometer that alerts you of abnormal highs or lows in blood glucose, or lets you record insulin doses alongside your measured blood glucose level.On the other hand, if your blood glucose is well controlled or you only need to check it on occasion, you might not need a model with many advanced features. Likewise, some models have large, easy-to-read numbers while others are touted as being especially user-friendly and easy to manipulate with arthritic hands.
Good to Know
Some clinics give out free glucometers to their newly diagnosed patients with diabetes. How can they afford to do this? The glucometer itself is inexpensive compared with the recurring cost of replacing the test strips and lancets.If you use several test strips and lancets a day, be sure to research the cost of the specific products that work with each glucometer before you choose one model over another.
Step 2: Browse the models
All of the glucometers listed below give readings in five seconds or less and have been approved for fingertip pricks. Some have been approved for other sites in the body like the palm or forearm but are usually only used at these sites if the fingertips cannot be used; check with your doctor.
In addition, these models can store at least 360 test results for download to a computer. You’ll be surprised at how much you and your doctor can learn by observing how your blood glucose levels rise and fall in response to certain lifestyle behaviors or foods, or at different times of the day. Many people are unaware these daily patterns even exist until they look at a graph of their past test results.
Some of the more common glucometers and their features are listed below.
The brand names and products below are intended as a reference and for educational purposes only.
Step 3: Covering the cost
Testing your blood glucose can get expensive, especially if you need to test it several times a day. An inexpensive box of 100 lancets can be found for less than $10, but even this minor cost will add up over the course of a year. Likewise, the cost of test strips varies depending on the glucometer you choose, in some cases amounting to more than $1,000 a year.
The good news is that if you have diabetes and are on insulin, your insurance will help cover the cost of your testing supplies in order to check glucose a few times a day. If you have diabetes but are not on insulin, your insurance should also help cover the cost of testing supplies at the frequency recommended by your doctor.
Step 4: Reliable results
Even the least expensive glucometers are very accurate and reliable, but every machine needs to be calibrated regularly. Your glucometer will come with a set of bottles that contain specified amounts of glucose in so-called control solutions. Any time you start a new box of test strips, or whenever your test results seem out of whack, try taking a reading using these control solutions.
Reviewed by Dr. Rita R. Kalyani and Dr. Mark D. Corriere from the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.