September 5, 2021
Blood glucose monitors are small hand -held devices that are used to measure blood glucose at home. Testing blood glucose is part of the management of diabetic patients. There are varieties of glucometers in the market that comes with different features to suit everyone’s needs and preferences. Type-1 diabetic patients and type-2 diabetic patients on insulin have to check blood glucose more frequently. A primary goal of treatment is to keep blood sugar in normal range as much of the time as possible guided by glucose monitoring several times a day. Keeping blood sugar in normal range not only helps in reduction of long term complications but also short term potentially life threatening complications of hypoglycemia.
There are several things to keep in mind when choosing the best glucometer. For example:
Ease of Use
Glucometer should be easy to use. Some glucometer models are easier to use with user-friendly displays.
Test strips vary from batch to batch. In Some glucometers you have to manually enter a code or enter a chip in the glucometer every time while using the new test strips box. The code or chip comes with a new box of strips. By Coding or entering chips into a glucometer the meter will be calibrated to the new test strips. This can be a hassle in times of emergency. Entering the wrong code gives an error. In newer models test strips contain the code information or have a microchip in the vial of strips. These reduce the possibility of user error.
The glucose result is shown either in mg/dL or mmol/L. Preference of unit of measurement varies by country. To convert mg/dL to mmol/L divide the value by 18 and mmol/L to mg/dL, multiply the value by 18.
Duration of Testing
Different models yield results in 3- 60 seconds. Newer models are faster and typically give result in 3-5 seconds.
Clock and Memory
Most meters now have a clock. Date and time are set by the user. The memory is an important aspect of diabetic care plan. Glucometers can keep a record of the previous 10-500 test results depending on the model. Some glucometers also calculate average results of the past 7,14 or 28 days. Readings of glucose show trends and patterns over days and weeks.
Blood Sample Size
The size of blood sample required ranges from 0.3 microliters to 1 microliter in different models. Older models required larger blood samples. Newer glucometers have the capillary action feature so it can give accurate readings even with drops as small as 0.3 microliters.
Alternative Sampling Site
Some models allow to take samples from alternative sites. Smaller drops of blood enabled alternative site sampling such as from the thighs, arms, forearms and palms. In case of emergency or doubt, sample should be taken from a finger prick. Finger tips have rich blood supply so it is easy to collect a blood sample immediately.
Accuracy of Result
Glucometers result are +/ – 15 or 20 % of lab results. In laboratory glucose is checked in venous plasma. Venous plasma glucose is 11 % higher than glucose level in whole blood ( as usually measured by glucometers). Some glucometer calculate by equations automatically and shows “plasma equivalent” reading which is more accurate.
They range in price from $25-75, testing strips can be pricey. Glucometer companies largely earn from selling these testing strips. Testing strips may get expired too and expired strips give incorrect results.
Insurance companies may have a list of pre-approved meters that it covers.
- Monitors with large displays or with audio capabilities suitable for patients with vision problems.
- Backlit screens which make reading easier in low light or at night.
- Some glucometers can test blood ketone levels also.
- Risk indicators for blood glucose levels lower than 70mg/dL or higher than 180mg/dL.
- Colorful options that are available for children.
Newer models are smaller but with larger displays.
Some glucometers link to apps so that you can store and analyze readings. Some devices are Bluetooth enabled or use infrared technology so data can be synced with your PC or smart phone. Results can be emailed to the physician. Some models have USB ports to load directly into a computer.
Continuous Glucose Monitors.
Continuous glucose monitors or CGMs have only just been recently introduced. It uses a sensor implanted under the skin which take glucose readings in tissue fluid continuously throughout the day and night and wirelessly send results to a monitor. The monitor can connect to a smart phone or integrate with insulin pump which delivers the required dose of insulin automatically. They work like an artificial pancreas.