What to Look for in a Glucose Meter

To choose a glucose meter that suits your needs, consider which of a dozen selection factors are most important to you.

You can then focus your search on meters with features you require or desire.

Glucose Meters: Factors to Consider

Accuracy, of course. Most new meters have good accuracy but it can diminish with use. Checking a meter’s accuracy once every month can relieve any concern over this. A meter can be checked by using it to test a control solution (available at pharmacies), or by comparing your meter’s reading to one done with the meter in your physician’s office.

To code or not to code. Meters have traditionally required users to enter a code indicating the type of test strip being used. Without the test strip code, meter readings are inaccurate. However, some newer glucose meters are designed to function without the entry of a code.

Maintenance motivation. If you are someone who puts as little effort as possible into maintaining your possessions, read the manufacturer’s maintenance and cleaning guidelines to see whether their meter matches your maintenance motivation style.

Site alternatives. Some of the newer meters allow blood samples to be taken from areas other than the finger tip, such as the thigh, or forearm.

Voice instruction. Those with vision, reading, or language issues might want a meter that guides the user with voice instructions; some meters have this feature in Spanish.

Upfront cost. Glucose meters are not generally a big expense, although prices vary widely. There are often manufacturer specials and store deals to watch for, and some people obtain meters without charge. Talk to your doctor and insurance company before purchasing.

Ongoing cost. The real cost of a glucose meter lies in the test strips. If budget is a concern, you will want to calculate the cost of using a particular meter for one or two years based on your usage of its test strips. For instance, if you test three times daily you can calculate the cost of three strips per day over 365 or 730 days.

User sophistication. Some of us can pick up and use any gadget, while others of us are still scratching our head over the TV remote. If your digital patience or sophistication is minimal you may want to look at meters that boast "basic features only."

Time factor. Though most meters give glucose results in fewer than 60 seconds, some can do it in less than five. If you are impatient or often in a rush, this may be important to you.

Small or smaller. Meters are quite compact, but some more so than others. Your meter’s size needs to be compatible with how you plan to carry it (e.g., pocket, backpack, purse).

Sample size. Some meters require a bit more of your blood than others.

Meter memory. Meters vary in how many test results they can store. Although keeping an accurate diabetes record requires people to supplement meter readings with a log of food eaten, exercise, and stress levels, it may make a difference to you whether your meter stores 200 results, several hundred, or a few thousand. With some newer models, test results can be uploaded to a computer program where other information can be added—this tracking service may be free or come with a fee.

Source: Diabetes Well Being
Photo credit: Sasquatch I / flickr

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