Research has shown that the key to reducing or avoiding diabetic complications is keeping the blood sugar tightly controlled; glucose meters are the main tool used to accomplish this. Currently there are about 75 different meters available in the United States with prices ranging from less than $10 to about $75. But take note: the price of the glucose meter does not necessarily reflect its quality or accuracy.

All glucose meters operate using the same basic steps:

  1. Insert one end of a glucose test strip into the monitor.
  2. Using a lancet and lancing device included with the meter draw a small drop of blood.
  3. Touch the blood to other end of the test strip. In about 5 seconds, the test result will be displayed on the meter screen.

Before you decide on a glucose meter, you should check with your insurance company to find out what types of testing strips are covered by your policy. Each meter uses its own specific test strips, which means that your insurance provider is in effect telling you what type of glucose meter to purchase. Testing strips range from .50 to $1 per strip, and since most people test their blood sugar 3-4 times a day this is a significant ongoing expense: a person who tests four times a day with $1 test strips will spend $480 a month without insurance coverage.

After you’ve checked into your insurance coverage, you’ll want to consider what features are important to you. Below are some options to consider:

Coding. Some glucose meters require you to calibrate each batch of strips so that the meter will recognize them; many meters do not require this extra step. Not needing to code or calibrate the test strips saves a bit of time and effort.

Size. Most glucose meters will fit in the palm of your hand, but there are “mini” or “compact” styles that easily fit into a purse or pocket. If you’re on the go with your meter this might be an important feature.

Sample size and alternative testing sites. Pricking your fingers over and over can cause scarring, and sometimes it’s difficult to get a good-sized drop of blood, causing an “Error” message. Some glucose meters/lancets can be used with alternative testing sites, like the arm or the thigh. And some require a mere speck of blood to produce accurate results.

Operating Temperatures. There are glucose meters designed to withstand extreme temperatures, a feature that may be important for persons who work (or play!) outside in such conditions.

Information storage and computer applications. Many glucose meters can provide average results over a two-week, one-month or 2-month time period; no special equipment is required to view these averages. Other meters come with a USB cable that plugs the meter directly into your computer, along with diabetes management software available from the manufacturer’s website.

For a person living with diabetes, having a blood glucose meter is essential to manage ones condition. Blood glucose levels can be affected by a number of factors, including exercise, food, medications, and stress. The meter works by inserting a test strip in the device. One then pricks a finger to draw a drop of blood which is placed on the test strip. The meter then displays the blood glucose level on a screen.

The Mayo Clinic notes that there are a number of models for meters are available for a wide range of prices. One should consider the following factors when choosing one. First one should make sure ones insurance covers the particular blood glucose meter one desires. Some companies limit their coverage only to specific models. Cost is also a factor, which means not only that of the meter but the test strips as well. It does no good to get a cheaper model if the test strips that go with it are pricey. One has to ask oneself how easy it is to use and maintain the blood glucose meter. Can it be handled well? Is the display easy to read? Is it easy to put a drop of blood on the test strip? Does the meter need calibrating? These and other questions need answering when one is choosing a model. One should also research special features such as displays that can be read by people with low vision. Some store readings over time and can transmit them to ones smart phone and to ones doctor. Finally one has to ascertain what kind of support the manufacturer offers, including a toll free number and a website with instructions on how the device is used

If you’d like more information about glucose meters, contact us at 1-866-422-4866 or fill out the short form on the right. We can provide you with information to better understand the many choices available to you.