Guide To Buying Glucose Monitors
Comparing Glucometers: Prices, Function And Utility

Diabetes Guide


Guide To Buying Glucose Meters


How Do I Choose A Monitor?
List Of Monitors With Good Memory Storage
Monitors That Work In Hot Temperatures
Monitors That Work In Lower Temperatures
Monitors With Other Functions

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How Do I Choose A Monitor?

Glucose Monitors: Also called glucose meters and glucometers. They are used for blood glucose monitoring.

Currently there are about 75 different makes of monitors available for purchase in the United States and each is slightly different to the other. The American Diabetes Association does not endorse one device over the other, primarily because they consider all relatively reliable. If you are planning to buy a monitor, here are some things to consider:

What Does Your Doctor Recommend?

What meter does your diabetes educator or doctor recommend? Health personnel often have meters they prefer to work with because they have the associated computer software to download the test results for analysis and tracking. The results will help determine if your diabetes therapy is on target. Glucose testing should be carried out by people with both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. People with pre-diabetes may also consider testing from time to time.

What Will It Cost?

Most meters are inexpensive; you may even receive one free from your doctor. Retail stores like Kroger, Walmart and Target also sell cheap meters - and cheap in this case does not usually mean they are less reliable. The main cost you need to be concerned with is the price of test strips. These are an ongoing expense and most meters can only be used with their own manufacturer’s strips. So when you buy the meter you are locking yourself into a supplier of strips. Before purchasing a meter talk to your insurance company, they may require you to buy a certain brand. Also, ask them how many test strips they will pay for every month (your doctor may require you to test more often, so some of the cost may be carried by you, or you will need to apply to your insurer for the cost). Strips can cost anywhere between 50 cents and $1. So if you test 5 times a day, that works out at $1,825 a year. You might be interested in our answer to: Are there blood glucose monitors that don't require strips? If you do not have insurance, contact the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) for information about discount programs run by health organizations, state agencies and pharmaceutical companies. Or call the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at 1-888-4PPA-NOW (1-888-477-2669) for information.

Additional Functions

Some manufacturer's will advertise their monitors as:

Small Sample Size
Some devices boast that they need a slightly smaller sample than others. Generally though most only require a sample size of between 0.3 and 1.5 microliters. This makes testing less painful.
Alternative Site Testing
This means you can draw blood from other parts of the body, such as the forearm or the fleshy part of the palm, not just the finger. However, even these devices will give inaccurate readings if blood is taken from somewhere other than the finger an hour after eating or immediately after exercising.
Test Results in Seconds
Some monitors are slightly faster than others, but there isn't a huge difference between the brands. We're only talking a few seconds difference.
Size of Device
While most meters are small enough to fit into your hand, some are even smaller. These will be marketed as 'compact' or 'mini'. If you travel frequently or are particularly active, you may find the compact version more convenient. The True2Go meter is particularly neat and convenient because the meter screws into the top of a container which stores the test strips. You will still need to carry your lancing device separately (a spring loaded device that punctures the finger to draw blood).
Also known as coding, some machines require calibrating when they are first bought. This is where you need to manually program it to recognize the particular brand of test strips you are going to use. Most new devices no longer require this process, either because the machine will automatically detect the brand itself or because it is set to only accept one type of strip.
Memory Storage
How much memory storage space your monitor has is important - particularly if your doctor wants to download the information to chart how you are doing. Most meters hold from 100 to 450 test results. You may also wish to download the information to your own computer, some meters are now compatible with smart phones.
Most meters work in regular hot and cold temperatures, but some can operate in more severe temperatures. This may be of interest to campers, climbers, hikers, or those who work outdoors on a daily basis.

Useful Articles
Read all about insulin pens and discover if they are right for you. To learn more about your condition, read about the causes of diabetes as well as see our section on books about diabetes for self-help guides.

List Of Monitors With Good Memory Storage

OneTouch UltraSmart: Stores 3,000 readings.
Contour USB: 2,000 readings.
WaveSense Jazz: 1,865 readings.
Accu-Chek Aviva: 500 readings.
Accu-Chek Compact Plus: 500 readings.
OneTouch Ultra2: 500 readings.
OneTouch UltraLink: 500 readings.
OneTouch UltraMini: 500 readings.
Rightest GM550: 500 readings.
Trueresult: 500 readings.
EasyMax: 480 readings.
Contour: 480 readings.
Didget: 480 readings.

Monitors That Work In Hot Temperatures

Precision Xtra and ReliOn Ultima both work in 122˚F
The following remaining meters range between 111˚F to 113˚F:
Contour and Contour TS
Contour USB
OneTouch Select
OneTouch Ultra2
OneTouch UltraLink
OneTouch UltraMini
OneTouch UltraSmart
Accu-Chek Aviva

Monitors That Work In Lower Temperatures

Sidekick works in temperatures as low as 34°F
The remaining work in 40°F to 41°F:
FreeStyle Freedom Lite
FreeStyle Lite
Contour and Contour TS
Contour USB
Accu-Chek Aviva
OneTouch Ultra2
OneTouch UltraLink
OneTouch UltraMini
OneTouch UltraSmart

Monitors With Other Functions

These glucometers also measure blood pressure:
Advocate Redi-Code Duo
Fora D10
Fora D15
Fora D20
These glucometers also measure ketones:
Fora G90
Nova Max Plus
Precision Xtra

  Related Articles on Prices of Glucose Meters

For more on diabetes, see the following:

Symptoms of Diabetes
Diabetes Diagnosis
Diabetes Facts: Statistics and figures for diabetics
Diabetes Complications

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