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How to Choose a Blood Glucose Monitor

Get the Right Blood Glucose Meter for Your Lifestyle

If you need to test your blood glucose levels (whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes), you have dozens of glucose meter, test strip, and lancet choices. Perhaps your most contemplated diabetes-related purchase is your glucose meter. Besides its importance to your health, glucose meters have many features that make life with diabetes easier, but all the choices can make it hard to decide which one will work best for you.

We’re here to help you navigate daily life with diabetes, so in this article, we’ll walk you through important considerations when looking at blood glucose meters.

Many Blood Glucose Meter Choices
Each year the magazine Diabetes Forecast publishes a blood glucose meter consumer guide. The 2011 edition lists more than 70 glucose meters1 that are all competing for the privilege of your purchase and ongoing use. As you shop for a glucose meter, make sure you weigh the importance of these features, along with the price of the meter and cost of the test strips you will use.

Digital storage: Most blood glucose meters can keep a history of your blood glucose readings. Meters with more memory can store more history.

Talks to your computer: Many people want their blood glucose meter to download readings to their computer so that they can keep a blood glucose history on there, too. Also, many physicians appreciate seeing data over a number of days or weeks so that they can spot trends.

If you’d like to do this (or if your doctor wants you to do this), make sure you understand all the technical requirements for connecting your blood glucose meter to your computer.

Blood sample size: Some blood glucose meter and test strip combinations require a sizable blood sample, while others pride themselves in only needing a scant amount.

One meter, for example, calls for 3.0 microliter sample, which is about the size of a BB pellet.

However, a number of meters can test your blood sugar using a much smaller sample—a 0.3 microliter sample. However, do not discount a meter that fits all of your other needs if it requires a little more blood for a sample.

Display font size: Larger numbers help many readers. While some people just prefer a big display, others with poor eyesight will need a large display to make blood sugar testing practical.

Backlit display: Many people want a meter that lights up in the dark. If you need to test in the dark, a backlit display makes it easier. Imagine if you needed to test while walking home one night, while traveling in a dark car or bus, during a movie, or after awaking in the middle of the night with nausea or pain.

Illuminated test strip port: This also helps people who need to test in the dark. It is much easier if you have some light assistance while sliding the test strip into the glucose meter.

Meters that work at extreme temperatures: If you are a winter sports enthusiast or you spend time in cold environments, you need to make sure your blood glucose meter is designed to venture into the cold with you.

Select a glucose meter designed to perform in the cold. There are also meters that withstand higher temperatures for people who spend time in deserts, tropics, and high-temperature work environments.

Size: Some people want a portable meter that fits easily into their pocket or does not take up too much space in a purse or briefcase. However, they often have to sacrifice when it comes to screen size and other features.

When selecting a blood glucose meter, you have many options to consider.  Make sure you take into consideration the various features of different blood glucose meters and find one that best fits your lifestyle.  By selecting the right blood glucose meter for you, it’ll be easier to monitor your blood glucose levels and keep them in your target range.

Updated on: April 18, 2011
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