The Importance of Glucometers When Managing Diabetes
Managing diabetes is a full-time role and is included in the overall topic of metabolism and medicine. Depending on your diabetes diagnosis, or threat level, people living with diabetes must make the right food and exercise choices following their treatment plan outlined by a physician or endocrinologist. Most people are diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Both are similar, but require very different approaches to treating and managing, with type 1 diabetes being the more serious diabetic diagnosis.
Type 1 diabetes is treated with either insulin shots or an insulin pump. Insulin is a hormone created by your pancreas that controls the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. It also helps store glucose in your liver, fat, and muscles. Today, doctors prescribe several types of insulin, ranging from rapid-acting to premix/combination insulin. Again, the prescription given is dependent on the diagnosis and severity of the person’s diabetes.
In addition to medications, there are several instruments’ diabetics can use to keep them informed on their blood sugar levels. A glucometer is one of the more used tools, which boasts a wide variety on the market today. However, each has the same outcome – to inform the patient of their blood sugar levels. This important information dictates what the patient does next concerning their treatments and daily activity.
Patients must decide which glucometer is best to achieve the information needed for their diabetic condition. It comes down to a level of comfort for each patient. For example, the Prodigy meter is an excellent choice for patients with visual impairments or seniors who want a simple yet accurate approach. This glucometer speaks to the readings and provides an alarm feature to remind patients when to check blood sugar levels. The article below outlines several types of glucometers available on the consumer market with pros and cons attributed to each.
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7 Best Glucometers that Make Checking Your Blood Sugar a Bit Simpler
By: Emily Goldman | 2.28.22
Anyone that checks their blood sugar regularly can tell you that the right glucose monitor can make all the difference. Whether you’re prediabetic, Type 2, or Type 1, or have another type of blood sugar issue, more than accuracy, the best glucometers offer a variety of features that help make managing blood sugars a bit easier.
For many in the U.S., health insurance plays a large role in what blood sugar meter you can use. Though, people with any type of diabetes can tell you it’s the test strips that get really expensive. “The best glucometer really varies from one person to the next,” explains Deena Adimoolam, M.D., endocrinologist and obesity specialist. “For those people who are not tech-savvy, it’s best to avoid complicated glucometers as it’s easy to get lost with all the different functionalities—a simple glucometer that checks fingersticks and records values might be the best option in this case.”
Noticeably left off of this list are Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs), as these differ from glucose monitors. Continuous glucose monitors offer continuous readings (and are worn 24 hours a day) and are used often in addition to glucose monitors as a way for diabetics to incur fewer finger sticks. This helps for a more real-time and holistic view of someone’s blood sugar. Most CGMs still require some fingersticks, and in my experience as a type 1 diabetic who wears a CGM and uses a glucose meter, a glucometer is still needed as a backup (and to double-check the CGM’s accuracy).
So, to help you find the best glucometer available (or even help you choose the best option from the ones covered by your insurance provider), we’re sharing glucose monitors worth considering.
How we chose
We tested countless glucometers, we also spoke with Dr. Adimooolam, Brian Fertig, M.D., F.A.C.E., founder and president of the Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center in Piscataway, N.J., chair of the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at Hackensack Meridian Health, JFK University Medical Center, and author of Metabolism & Medicine, and poured through countless online reviews to help you find the best glucose meter available.
Our top picks
- This glucose monitor has just about everything you could want: a light where you insert the test strip (great for middle-of-the-night finger pricks!), a compact design, Bluetooth capability for easy data storage, a light-up screen for easier viewing, and arrows that indicate if you are within your target range. It even has something called second-chance sampling, which allows you to apply more blood to the test strip within 60 seconds, which may help prevent wasting test strips and ultimately save money.
- Ever wanted to ditch the clunky glucose monitor and just grab your phone, wallet, keys, and go? (I have!). This glucometer is truly futuristic and features plug-ins for your smartphone (Android and iOS users, rejoice), that turn your cell into a glucose monitor. Wild, I know. No batteries or coding is needed. With over 10,000 Amazon reviews and a nearly five-star rating, this glucose meter definitely brings the cool factor.
- This small meter is great for on-the-go blood sugar checks. Not only is it tiny in size, but it also uses a small blood sample, making finger pricks a bit less, well, bloody. And with a five-second test time, you won’t have to wait long for the results—cutting down on that anxiety waiting for the number to pop up on the screen!
- Dr. Fertig recommends the Prodigy meter for the visually impaired. Speaking in four languages (English, Spanish, French, and Arabic), this glucometer speaks your readings to you. Whether you’re visually impaired or simply want audio confirmation of your glucose readings, this is a great option—with a nearly five-star rating and 4,000 reviews.
- The brand touts this glucose monitor as a great option for senior patients, and we’re inclined to say it’s great for people of any age who are looking for a simple, no-frills glucometer. It features alarm reminders, saved pre- and post-meal testing, and it features large text so it’s easy to read.
- The One Touch Ultra 2 “has a large screen, easily readable with a big bright display and a backlight (that is easily seen in areas with limited lighting,” notes Dr. Fertig. “Small, but not too small, fits in palm of your hand.” Reviewers note that this glucometer is “easy to use and accurate,” and really what more could you want from a glucose monitor? With large font and before and after meal indicators, keeping track of your blood sugar trends just got easier. Plus, it features a simple one-touch operation, making the entire process a breeze.
- Dr. Fertig recommends this glucometer for people looking for an inexpensive option. He notes that the strips are inexpensive, too—something that makes a big difference when it comes to medical expenses. At just $10 for the glucometer and $9 for 50 test strips, it’s a pretty great deal. Plus, Walmart shoppers give it a 4.1-star rating and rave reviews. “Very affordable, accurate. Love that it works using 2 AAA batteries. Easy to use and gives seven, 14, 30 and 90 day averages,” one happy customer writes.
How can I tell if my glucose meter is accurate?
If you’re wondering if one type of glucometer is more accurate than another, experts aren’t quick to point to one brand in particular. Most meters on the market should read accurately. But if you’re not sure if yours is accurate, Dr. Adimoolam says, “You will have an idea if they are accurate based on when you visit your doctor and have your hemoglobin A1C [a number reflecting your average blood glucose levels over three months] checked.”
But what can you do in the moment if readings are feeling particularly off? “The best way to ensure your glucometer stays accurate is to use the control solution that comes with your glucometer to check it for accuracy,” Dr. Adimoolam says. If the control solution reading does not match with the number on the solution bottle/directions, then that is an indicator something is wrong with your meter, she says. “It’s also important to make sure the testing strips you use are the appropriate ones for your glucometer, and to ensure testing strips are not damaged or expired.”