Types of Blood Glucose Meters
Basic Blood Glucose Meters
Basic blood glucose meters have just one job: Sampling a drop of your blood and telling you how high -- or low -- your blood glucose levels are. You use a lancing device to prick your finger, then touch the resulting drop of blood to a test strip that slides into the glucometer. Standard features include a memory function for storing past readings and the ability to average those readings over time. Some basic meters also come with software that lets you track and visualize your blood glucose trends, and a few let you program customizable alerts or flag readings for special circumstances.
Talking Blood Glucose Meters
If you have limited or no sight, talking blood glucose meters are the key to checking your blood sugar readings independently. They use audible messages to coach you through the process of setting your meter up, testing your blood glucose levels and recording the results. The best talking glucometers also have Braille instructions, large buttons that are easy to identify by touch, and large, easy-to-read digits for reference by those who are partially sighted.
matters most in a glucometer
Accuracy and consistency (also called
repeatability) should take priority over the fancy bells and whistles you'll
find on some modern glucose meters. For people with diabetes, getting the
readings right -- or at least within a reasonable range -- can be a matter of
life and death, or at least the ability to consistently feel good.
Just because a home blood glucose meter meets
the current federal standards doesn't mean it's the best. The newest standards, released by the FDA in Oct. 2016, require that
95 percent of the readings should be within plus or minus 15 percent of the
laboratory control, while 99 percent of the readings should be within plus or
minus 20 percent of the laboratory control. That's an improvement over the
previous guidelines, but still leaves a lot of room for "acceptable"
cost of the meter doesn't always represent the long-term investment
if your insurance company covers the cost of diabetic supplies, be aware that
it may only cover a limited selection of brands -- so check your coverage
before you buy. If you don't have insurance, you can often get a free meter and
a sample batch of test strips from your doctor or even directly from the meter
out for the cost of test strips, though -- they are the greatest overall
expense in your diabetic testing kit. The test strips that accompany the
monitors in this report range from $20 to $45 or more per box of 50. If
you test your blood sugar four times a day, that supply will last you a little
less than two weeks. With more expensive brands, the cost of test strips can
easily clear $1,500 per year.
Some drugs and glucose
meters can be a deadly combination
Certain drugs can cause errors with glucose
meters that use a specific type of test-strip technology (known as GDH-PQQ),
resulting in dangerous -- potentially fatal -- false readings. Always consult
with your care provider if you have any questions or concerns, and check your
blood glucose meter's packaging carefully, too.
Finally, if you're dealing with diabetes, your
doctor may direct you to check your blood pressure regularly as well. We've
researched expert sources and consumer reviews to bring you a full report on
the best blood pressure monitors.
Finding The Best Blood Glucose Meters
"Blood Glucose Meters"
"Accuracy Evaluation of Five Blood Glucose Monitoring Systems Obtained from the Pharmacy: A European Multicenter Study with 453 Subjects"
"Accuracy Evaluation of Blood Glucose Monitoring Systems in Children on Overnight Closed-Loop Control"
We consulted a number of clinical trials and
expert evaluations to determine accuracy, ease of use and convenience for the
glucometers in our report. Aside from medical journals, our analysis included
hands-on reviews from sources like Consumer Reports, Healthline, HealthCentral
and diaTribe. We also relied heavily on sources like the National Federation of
the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind and DLife.com to find the best
talking blood glucose meters.
Finally, we also scoured retail sites like
Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens for user input on how these blood glucose meters
perform in the real world. After all, accuracy in controlled clinical trials is
one thing, but even the best medical trials can't always simulate all the
challenges of real-world conditions or, in some cases, simply figuring out how
to use the meter.