If you have diabetes, you'll likely need a blood glucose meter to measure and display the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Exercise, food, medications, stress and other factors affect your blood glucose level. Using a blood glucose meter can help you better manage your diabetes by tracking any fluctuations in your blood glucose level.
Many types of blood glucose meters are available, from basic models to more-advanced meters with multiple features and options. The cost of blood glucose meters and test strips varies, as does insurance coverage. Study your options before deciding which model to buy.
When selecting a blood glucose meter, it can help to know the basics of how they work. To use most blood glucose meters, you first insert a test strip into the device. Then you poke a clean fingertip with a special needle to get a drop of blood. You carefully touch the test strip to the blood and wait for a blood glucose reading to appear on the screen.
When used and stored properly, blood glucose meters are generally accurate in how they measure glucose. They differ in the type and number of features they offer. Here are several factors to consider when choosing a blood glucose meter:
Although finger pokes remain the gold standard for blood sugar monitoring, researchers are developing products designed to take the pain out of the process. Ask your doctor about these alternatives.
|Device||How it works||Considerations|
|Alternative site monitor||Allows blood samples to be taken from areas likely to be less painful than your finger, such as your arm, the palm of your hand or your thigh||Not as accurate as fingertip samples when blood sugar level is rising or falling quickly|
|Continuous glucose testing||Uses a sensor placed under the skin to measure blood sugar level; transmits each reading to a small recording device worn on your body, a smartphone or a smart watch; an alarm can be set to alert of blood sugar levels that are too low or too high||Expensive; requires sensor to be replaced every seven to 14 days, depending on the brand; may need to check blood sugar level with a traditional monitor to confirm readings and to program the device|
If you've looked at the costs, features and other considerations and are still unsure which blood glucose meter to buy, ask your doctor or diabetes educator for a recommendation.