For 18.8 million Americans with diabetes, blood sugar monitors can make a difference between life and death. These small electronic devices allow them to monitor their blood glucose with just one drop of blood, and to tell them if they need to adjust their medication, their food or their activities.
People with Type 2 diabetes need to check their blood glucose at least one time a day, and people who are on insulin therapy, such as people with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2, need to test their blood three to ten times a day. For them, blood sugar monitor is an important part of life and the type they use has to fulfill some very important requirements.
What to look for
Blood sugar monitors are developing and changing almost daily. They are becoming smaller, simpler and easier to use. But, there are still significant differences. If you are in the process of deciding what kind of monitor to buy, start with talking with your doctor. He is in the best position to tell you what type you need. He will also tell you about the type of monitors that exist on the market and the new features available. There are some features that you can decide yourself:
1. Price. The price of monitors varies between $20 and $100, but you will probably get one for free. What makes financial difference are testing strips. You need one every time you test your blood, and some of them cost up to a 1$, depending on the monitor.
2. Is it covered by your insurance provider. Get the list of monitors covered by your insurance company. You may need to select a specific blood glucose monitor because that’s what your insurance plan covers. Insurance covers strips as well.
3. Multisite: use. Some newer monitors can be used not only on your finger, but on the fleshy part of your hand, forearm, upper arm, calf or thigh. After you have been pricking your finger to draw a drop of blood for years, you will appreciate the advantage of this feature.
4. Very fast results. Some monitors show your blood glucose in five seconds. If your blood glucose is dangerous low, you need to act quickly. Fast result can make an important difference.
5. Very small drop of blood. Monitors with very fine lancet (needle) need very little blood and do not pierce the skin too deep. That means less discomfort or pain.
6. Small size. The smaller the monitor is, the easier it is to carry it around. Women carry large purses, but for men, small size can be important, especially if they are carrying all their other electronic gadgets in their pocket.
7. Can store more test results. Monitors with more memory can save up to500 previous tests. This will allow you to monitor your blood sugar fluctuations for a longer period.
8. Results can be downloaded to your computer. If your monitor comes with its own software, you can download your results to the computer in order to track and record your glucose over time, and discuss it with your doctor.
9. Large screen with big digits. If you have low vision, you will appreciate being able to easily see your results.
10. Strips are stored in the monitor. Some monitors have internal drum or disk which feeds test strips when you need them. You have to carry only one piece of equipment, and it is much easier to use. It can be tough inserting a strip into a small slot on your monitor when your sugar is low and you are anxious and shaking.
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