Blood Glucose Monitor
Why self-test blood glucose levels?
These blood sugar goals aren't for everyone, and your personal testing targets may run higher or lower. Your diabetes care team will work with you to determine self-testing blood sugar goals based on your individual medical history and lifestyle requirements. Blood sugar testing enables you to see how certain foods, activities, and situations may impact your blood glucose levels. It can also help you and your diabetes care team evaluate how effective, or ineffective, a new treatment routine or change in blood sugar medication is.
For people who take insulin, blood sugar testing allows for more accurate dosage adjustments. The ADA suggests that people taking multiple insulin injections or using insulin pump therapy should test three or more times each day; this includes those with type 1 diabetes, some pregnant women with diabetes, and people with type 2 diabetes who take multiple injections of insulin daily. There is no official recommendation for blood sugar testing frequency for those with type 2 diabetes who are on oral medication or who control their diabetes through diet and exercise only; however the ADA does state self-monitoring of blood glucose may be appropriate in order to achieve blood glucose targets.
What kind of blood glucose monitor?
There are a wide variety of blood glucose monitors to choose from, from stripped down single-reading meters to models with computer compatibility, alarms, and backlights. Think about the functions that are important to you. For example, if you like seeing trend data on your glucose readings, a blood glucose monitor that has extensive memory may be for you. People with vision impairment may prefer a large display, or an adaptive meter with voice reading capabilities. Size may also matter; if you prefer an unobtrusive blood glucose monitor that can be used discreetly you'll want something small and easy to handle. Your certified diabetes educator or pharmacist is a good source of information on what blood glucose monitor may be right for you.
Most meters on the market today read blood plasma, the same standard that is used in a clinical setting (many older meters provide whole blood readings). Consider the following features when deciding on a blood glucose monitor:
- Size and user-friendliness. Is it convenient for your needs and easy-to-use?
- Time to readout. How long does the meter take to display results?
- Memory. How many test results will the meter's memory hold, and does it have the capability of averaging results for a designated time period?
- Trend data and computer compatibility. Does the meter interface with a computer and allow you to download meter results and generate blood sugar trend information?
- Battery life and availability. Will battery power last a reasonable amount of time, and are the batteries easily available at a local store or must they be special ordered?
- Blood sample size. Does the meter require a minimal amount of blood?
- Alternative site testing. Some meters allow you to test blood samples from the forearm and other sites beyond the fingertips.
- Cost. Factor in the cost of test strips when evaluating your meter purchase.
- Multitasking. Some blood glucose monitors double as blood ketone testers (Precision Xtra; Abbott Diabetes Care).
- Adaptive technology. If you have vision impairments, you may need a meter that "speaks" your results.
- Bells and whistles. Glow-in-the-dark cases, backlighting, and swappable faceplates are just a few of the other features today's blood glucose meters can offer.
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