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If you have diabetes, you'll likely need a blood glucose meter to measure and display the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Exercise, food, medications, stress and other factors affect your blood glucose level. Using a blood glucose meter can help you better manage your diabetes by tracking any fluctuations in your blood glucose level.
Many types of blood glucose meters are available, from basic models to more-advanced meters with multiple features and options. The cost of blood glucose meters and test strips varies, as does insurance coverage. Study your options before deciding which model to buy.
When selecting a blood glucose meter, it can help to know the basics of how they work. To use most blood glucose meters, you first insert a test strip into the device. Then with a special needle, you poke a clean fingertip to get a drop of blood. You carefully touch the test strip to the blood and wait for a blood glucose reading to appear on the screen.
When used and stored properly, blood glucose meters are generally accurate in how they measure glucose. They differ in the type and number of features they offer. Here are several factors to consider when choosing a blood glucose meter:
Although finger pokes remain the gold standard for blood sugar monitoring, researchers have developed products designed to take the pain out of the process and continue to develop new products. Ask your healthcare provider about these alternatives.
If you've looked at the costs, features and other considerations and are still unsure which blood glucose meter to buy, ask your doctor or certified diabetes care and education specialist for a recommendation.
"Continuous glucose monitors offer more intensive monitoring of a diabetic patient's sugar levels," said Dr. Rebecca Fenichel, an endocrinologist at Westmed Medical Group. "They are particularly well suited to patients who have to check multiple times a day, or to patients who want to get more frequent feedback during the day."
While anyone can buy a regular blood glucose meter, you'll need a prescription from your doctor for a CGM system. Doctors may recommend a continuous blood glucose monitoring device for reasons tied to your unique health circumstances and lifestyle, to track your personal glucose trends and keep on top of your insulin levels, but a CGM device may not work for everyone's unique diabetes care plan.
CGM devices can also give you and your doctor more information about blood sugar level than a standard meter -- like if your blood sugar begins to drop too low, the device can warn you about your dropping blood glucose levels, "which can be a very helpful feature in helping patients avoid hypoglycemia," said Fenichel. "They can tell you not only what your current sugar level is but also whether it is on the way up or on the way down."
For this article, we've consulted doctors, including Fenichel, and researched the most popular models to curate the best continuous glucose monitors on the market for 2023. Just be sure to talk to your doctor about diabetes monitor options to make a plan for the best health monitoring for you.
This meter is recommended by Fenichel and was previously recommended by Dr. Nate Favini, medical lead of Forward. "For people who are interested in deeper insights into their glucose levels, I'll often recommend the Freestyle Libre for continuous glucose monitoring," said Favini.
"By placing a sensor on your arm, you can track your glucose constantly through the day and develop your understanding of what makes your sugar levels go up and down. People will often be surprised that foods that they assumed were good for their glucose levels may be causing spikes in their sugar. Though continuous glucose monitors are more expensive, they can help you understand what types of food and exercise are best for you."
"I find continuous glucose monitoring to be a valuable tool in the management of both type 1 and 2 diabetes," Dr. Josh Emdur, medical director of SteadyMD, said. "CGM data provides actionable insight to help patients track their glycemic response to dietary choices and activity levels."
The Dexcom G6 doesn't require you to manually scan to get a glucose level reading -- instead you get a wireless reading either on a dedicated receiver device or to your phone or Apple Watch. The Dexcom G6 reads your blood sugar every five minutes, keeping track of your blood sugar level as long as you're wearing it night and day. You can set a custom range for where you'd like your blood sugar to be, and if it goes into low blood sugar or high blood sugar ranges you set, you will get notified.
"For patients on an insulin pump, the Dexcom G6 may connect with your pump and offer a closed-loop system to turn off your insulin if you are going low. The Dexcom monitor is also approved in pregnancy and offers continuous monitoring that you can see on your phone at all times," says Fenichel.
Once the sensor is in place, you don't have to change it out for about 180 days, a long sensor life. The transmitter itself can alert you if your blood sugar is too high or low, and you can also get wireless readings sent to your phone via an app. You can share your blood glucose data from your app with your doctor or anyone else who wants to check your blood sugar readings.
The Guardian Connect System is a CGM that can tell you your current glucose readings quickly via a connected app and also lets you easily access trends and data about your blood sugar over time. One feature that stands out with The Guardian is the "predictive" alerts you can get about your sugar. Unlike other CGM systems that alert you when your sugar is already high or low, The Guardian uses technology that predicts when your blood sugar might get high or low, before it happens. Another feature that comes with the monitor is the Sugar.IQ diabetes assistant app for diabetes management, which uses your data to help you figure out what diet, exercise and insulin works best for you.
Do not ignore symptoms that may be due to low or high blood glucose, hypoglycemic unawareness, or dehydration. Check sensor glucose readings with a blood glucose meter when Check Blood Glucose symbol appears, when symptoms do not match system readings, or when readings are suspected to be inaccurate. The system does not have alarms unless the sensor is scanned, and the system contains small parts that may be dangerous if swallowed. The system is not approved for pregnant women, persons on dialysis, or critically-ill population. Sensor placement is not approved for sites other than the back of the arm and standard precautions for transmission of blood borne pathogens should be taken. The built-in blood glucose meter is not for use on dehydrated, hypotensive, in shock, hyperglycemic-hyperosmolar state, with or without ketosis, neonates, critically-ill patients, or for diagnosis or screening of diabetes. When using FreeStyle LibreLink app, access to a blood glucose monitoring system is required as the app does not provide one. Review all product information before use or contact Abbott toll free (855-632-8658) or visit www.freestylelibre.us for detailed indications for use and safety information.
For about a month, Tabb Firchau, an entrepreneur living in Seattle, has been wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a federally approved medical device that tracks blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. The CGM patch has a small needle that probes the inside of his arm, and a sensor that tracks changes to his blood sugar in real-time. The data is then sent to his smartphone.
A healthy person wearing a diabetes device may seem odd, but in the quantified-self movement, people like Firchau say it makes sense to track their blood sugar, especially given all the recent attention to the risks associated with overconsumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates, like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Since the first CGM was approved in 2005, some people with diabetes have used the devices to help monitor their blood sugar, rather than take finger pricks throughout the day to check it manually. The devices take a measurement every one to five minutes, and people can set alarms to alert them whenever their levels are dangerously high or low.
A blood glucose meter is a way to check your blood sugar and you should already have one if you treat your diabetes with insulin. Your standard meter will have a lancet to prick your finger, a digital display and a place to insert a test strip.
You can get a range of different types of blood glucose monitors. There are some meters that have extra features such as USB connections that allow you to log your readings on a computer. There are also meters that have calculators for insulin to carbohydrate ratio, and that you can link up with your smartphone.
There are many different types of blood glucose meters available. That means you may not get the one you've read about or want from your doctor or nurse. But they should provide you with a monitor that meets your needs for blood sugar checking
If you have Type 2 and want to get test strips, you might not be able to get them on prescription. You will only be able to get test strips on prescription if your doctor or nurse wants you to self-monitor.
You start off by putting the strip in your meter - unless it comes preinstalled. Then after you've pricked your finger you take your meter and hold the test strip against the blood. This is how you will get your blood sugar levels from your meter.
But even if you use flash or CGM, there will still be times that you will need to check your blood sugar using the traditional finger pricking method. This is because flash and CGM both have a small delay in the results they give you. 041b061a72