Blood Glucose Meters
Blood glucose meters are small computerized machines that "read" your blood glucose.
In all types of meters, your blood glucose level shows up as a number on a screen (like that on your pocket calculator). Be sure your doctor or nurse educator shows you the correct way to use your meter.
With all the advances in blood glucose meters, use of a meter is better than visual checking.
How Accurate are They?
Experts testing meters in the lab setting found them accurate. That's the good news.
The bad news: meter mistakes most often come from the person doing the blood checks. For good results you need to do each step correctly.
Here are some other things that can cause your meter to give a poor reading:
- Dirty meter
- Meter or strip that's not at room temperature
- Outdated test strip
- Meter not calibrated (set up for) the current box of test strips
- Blood drop that is too small
Ask your health care team to check your skills at least once a year. Error can creep in over time.
How Do I Choose a Meter?
There are many meters to choose from. Some meters are made for those with poor eyesight. Others come with memory so you can store your results in the meter itself.
The American Diabetes Association does not endorse any products or recommend one meter over another.
If you plan to buy a meter, here are some questions to think about:
- What meter does your doctor or diabetes educator suggest? They may have meters that they use often and know best.
- What will it cost? Some insurance companies will only pay for a certain meter. Call your insurance company before you purchase a meter and ask how to get a meter and supplies. If your insurance company does not pay for blood glucose checking supplies, rebates are often available toward the purchase of your meter. You still have to consider the cost of the matching strips and lancets. Shop around.
- How easy is the meter to use? Methods vary. Some have fewer steps than others.
- How simple is the meter to maintain? Is it easy to clean? How is the meter calibrated (set correctly for the batch of strips you are using)?
Continuous Glucose Monitors
Unlike traditional meters that provide one-time snapshots of your blood glucose, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) measure glucose every few minutes, so you know your level at any given time. Continuous glucose monitors measure the level of glucose in the fluid directly beneath the skin (called interstitial fluid). Alarms can be set to alert patients of high or low glucose levels. Blood glucose levels that rise or fall quickly can also be displayed.
Continuous blood monitors are only used if prescribed by your health care provider. Measuring your blood glucose trends with a continuous blood glucose monitor can help you and your health care provider understand how your treatment plan is working. Users need to use a traditional blood glucose meter before making treatment decisions because it will provide you with closer to real-time levels (the level of glucose measured by CGMs is about 15-20 minutes behind).
For More Information
- Read about the latest advances in blood glucose meters in Diabetes Forecast's "2013 Consumer Guide".
- Post a question on our Diabetes Technology & Equipment message board and get feedback from others.
Last Reviewed: July 15, 2013
Last Edited: August 5, 2013
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