The Type 2 Guide to Blood Glucose Meters
Type 2 diabetes requires self-management, and checking your blood sugar level regularly is a big part of that. The proper equipment makes this task a more painless part of your daily routine. Trusty blood glucose meters by your side will allow you to quickly and accurately measure your blood glucose levels anywhere.
Most blood glucose meters work using single-use test strips that are inserted into the meter. You then prick a fingertip with a lancet to draw a small drop of blood. Once the blood touches the test strip, the meter begins processing the results. Usually, your blood sugar level will be displayed within five seconds, and federal requirements ensure the accuracy of those numbers. Food and Drug Administration standards currently require that meter results must be within 15 percent of actual blood glucose levels.
Quality meters on the market today are offered by Accu-Chek®, Bayer, Freestyle and OneTouch, among many others. For example, the Accu-Chek Guide meter offers simple features such as a spill-resistant test strip vial, making it easier to remove a single strip and spill none.
By understanding what meters are available and what lifestyles they are best suited to, you can find a meter that fits you best! Talking with a doctor or diabetes educator can help you determine which monitor would work best with your lifestyle and budget. Below are a few factors to consider.
Most meters range from $10 to $75, but much of the cost of blood glucose monitoring comes from the cost of test strips. A batch of 100 can cost anywhere from $18 to $184 (before insurance). If you don’t have health insurance and you want to test your blood four times a day, that adds up to $2,685 per year. Luckily, both public and private insurance is likely to cover much of these costs, but you’ll need to find out if there’s a certain brand that’s preferred on your plan. Talk to your insurer or pharmacist to understand your options.
If you do not have health insurance and the cost of blood glucose monitoring is an issue, there are test strip subscription programs out there that will deliver supplies directly to your home and help keep costs under control.
Meters come in a variety of sizes and shapes. If you plan to test multiple times a day and are pretty mobile, you might want a small model that fits in a bag, purse, or glove box. Older users, or any with visual impairment, might prefer a larger meter with easily visible buttons and a backlit screen or easier-to-read display. If you plan to test exclusively at home, a monitor that stores multiple strips might be preferable, though these tend to be bulkier.
Older meters require calibration to each batch of purchased test strips via coding. Some units require a code entered or scanned with a smartphone. Doing this wrong can lead to inaccurate results. Newer meters feature technology that requires no coding at all—an update that has proven popular in recent years.
Another benefit of blood glucose meters is that it allows you to keep tracking your results and modify your diabetes treatment plan accordingly. Your desired amount of storage will depend on how often you measure and how you and your health providers want to review your data. If you measure three times a day, and your provider wants to see an entire month of results, you’ll need a meter that can retain data from at least 90 tests. Most top models hold a minimum of 360 readings. Meters from the Accu-Chek Guide portfolio now hold up to 750 results with the time and date noted. Many models also integrate with smartphone apps and can be downloaded to your phone or computer via Bluetooth technology or a USB connection. These connected devices allow you to better store, understand and share your data with your healthcare team.
Cost is super important, but so is quality. Do some research on the quality of your meter, too. Meter manufacturers follow a set of standards to ensure the accuracy of their products. User reviews can help you decide if a product is worth the buy or not. Also, remember just because something is inexpensive, doesn’t mean it’s not a quality product. The opposite is also true. If you purchase a blood glucose meter and find it doesn’t work for you, it may work for someone else. Pay it forward and donate to another in need.
Proper usage is just as important as picking out the right blood glucose meters for you. It’s crucial to use the correct test strips for your model. Using other strips may produce incorrect results.
Test from your fingertips—some models allow you to test from different areas, like the forearm, but those results are usually not as accurate.
Wash hands before testing. The slightest bit of food or dirt on your finger can wildly affect results. Washing with warm water has an added benefit of drawing blood to the fingertips, which will make producing a drop from your finger even easier.
Regular monitoring with your blood glucose meter will allow you to better understand what impacts your blood glucose levels. Data is power! Happy sugar checking.
Accu-Chek and Accu-Chek Guide are trademarks of Roche.