Diabetes is a killer disease and the only way you can beat it is by adopting a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and of course, keeping your blood sugar level in the normal range. But, how can you make sure that your blood sugar is normal?
Visiting the laboratory just for blood sugar (glucose) testing is a thing of the past. Now, every diabetic patient uses a device which tells them their blood sugar level even in the comforts of their bedroom!
The confusion rises when you try to buy a glucometer for yourself. There are a dozen of popular companies which manufacture quality glucometers out there. Making the right choice is a tough task especially if you are looking to buy yur very first glucometer.
We, a team of doctors at BeingTheDoctor have been making this list for quite a time now. This list of factors are the ones that you should definitely consider before making your choice. And don’t buy a particular glucometer just because your friend has the same one. Talk with your doctor and determine which fits your needs the best.
Here goes the Top 10 Factors for Choosing a Diabetes Blood Glucometer :
What good is a glucometer if the diabetes glucose meter isn’t accurate? Most new glucometers meets the FDA standards and have good accuracy. Accuracy of the glucometer can also depend on how the user uses it. As a glucometer ages, they can become less accurate. There are two ways to ensure the accuracy of glucometers and this should be done routinely say in three months interval.
- Easiest and cheapest way is to take your glucometer with you and visit your doctor or a reputed laboratory. You can check your blood sugar level using the glucometer and then by the traditional laboratory method. The two results should either match or should fall within a 15% margin of each other.
- Second method is by using a control solution. The meter may come with the solution, or you can buy it at most pharmacies. If the glucometer is still accurate, it should read the solution at the required level specified for the control solution (please refer to the user manual of the glucometer for further details).
#2 Cost of the glucometer
An important factor in choosing a glucometer is it’s cost. Most of the manufacturers sell their products at attractive prices starting at just INR 500 and going up to INR 3000. The cost of the meter itself depends on various other factors like technology used, memory capability, syncing option, cost of test strips and so on. Below is a table with the cost of some of the most popular glucometers available in India. You just have to look out for deals and offers from these manufacturers to grab a glucometer for the lowest possible price.
Visit Amazon for some of the most popular glucometers that you can buy online.
#3 Cost of Test Strips
Yeah. This is one factor which most of the users overlook. And this is the reason why majority of the poor diabetic patients stop using their glucometer. Buying a digital blood pressure monitor is a one time investment, not so for a glucometer due to the recurring cost of the test strips. Plan the number of test strips that you’ll be using in a month and then for a year. For example, if you are planning to check your blood sugar twice daily, you’ll need 60 strips a month and 720 strips a year! You’ll be surprised when you see the number of test strips you need for a lifetime.
Have a look at the cost of test strips of some popular brands on Amazon here.
All the popular manufacturers sell vials containing strips at different prices. The more bulk purchase you make, less will be the cost of each test strip. Below is a table with the cost of test strips from some of the popular brands in India:
|Glucometer Model||Cost of 50 test strips (INR)||Cost of 100 test strips (INR)|
|One Touch Select||1100||1600|
|Dr Morepen Gluco One||780||1400|
|Omron HGM 112||1000||1780|
#4 Ease of use : Coding and Buttons
A “code” is a small chip like device found in the vials of test strips. Some glucometers, like the Accu-Chek Active for instance needs a code to be inserted before using a new vial of test strips.
The code depends upon which type of test strips you use. Telling the meter what type of test strip is used allows the glucometer to deliver accurate results. The new generation of glucometers however do not need a code to identify a batch type of the test strips and are easier to use (e.g. the One Touch glucometer)
Another factor deterring the ease of use of a glucometer is the need of pressing buttons to get and record a test value. Some glucometers, like the Accu-Chek Performa is turned “on” by strip insertion! Lesser the number of clunky buttons, the more easier the meter becomes.
#5 The Lancing Device
How long will you tolerate the needle pricks required to draw the drop of blood for diabetes blood glucose testing if it’s really painful? You’ll shudder on the sight and even the thought of the needles, right? Thankfully, all the major brands of diabetes glucometers have their own lancing devices. These devices are intended to draw the sufficient quantity of blood required for the test and that too in a painless way. Personally, we have found the Bayer’s lancing device very easy to use delivering the most painless lancing experience. Cost of lancets should also be taken into consideration while thinking about the lancing device and glucometers. Thannkfully, there are many third party lancet manufacturers out there who sell quality lancets for a cheaper price compared to the original lancing device makers.
#6 The Blood Sample
Most of the new glucometers requires just a tiny drop of blood (5 micro litre) to correctly deliver the test result. Older models required a “hanging” drop of blood!! When the blood sample obtained is inadequate, the modern day glucometers display the warning or give an alarm to notify you.
Pricking the same fingers day after day can get downright painful. However, recent advancements has made “alternative site testing.” possible. This means you can take blood samples from areas such as your forearm or thigh, not just your finger tip. Now, that’s a feature to consider for your next diabetes glucometer.
#7 Test Record Keeping
So, you’ve pricked your finger a hundred times in the last month, what good is it if you haven’t kept a record? It only shows that you are strictly monitoring your blood glucose levels and it will mean a lot more if you keep good record of the test values.
The record we are talking about should also contain the type of food you ate, the type of activities you did, physical exercises if any, the time you took the medicines or insulin injections, and so on. If you do this meticulously, you are on the right track. Otherwise, the glucometer just becomes a device you use to run to the emergency department based on low or high sugar values. Think about it.
The record shows how your blood sugar responds over time based on certain factors (e.g., exercise, foods, meals, stress, etc.) is helpful for you and your doctor to manage your diabetes. Data from such records can be easily graphed and tracked by professionals for the best possible management of your diabetes. Most meters store several hundred test results. Many people opt to keep a written log because it’s easy, cheap and adequate. Some newer meters allow you to upload information to a computer software. Read the review of this sleek USB type glucometer from Bayer to get an idea. Don’t panic if your glucometer doesn’t come with a computer program software, you can make your own Microsoft “Excel” or Mac’s “Numbers” app to enter the test values and add other information like what you ate, etc. You may even backup that file in a cloud storage and share it with your doctor. You’ll become a super techy diabetes fighter instantly !!
#8 Glucometer Result Speed
Most diabetes glucose meters provide results in less than a minute. Others do it in less than 5 seconds. We are fine as long as the glucometer gives accurate results even if it takes longer time to display them.
#9 Glucometer Size
Most new glucometers are fairly compact. It will be a wise thing to do if you make sure that the glucometer will fit where you want to keep it, such as your purse, pocket etc. You’ll have to give space for the test strip vial and the lancing device too. Accu-Chek provides a sturdy yet sleek pouch to carry all the glucometer accessories in one piece neat.
#10 Talking Glucometers
This is an accessibility feature which enables even the visually impaired or blind diabetes patients to check their blood glucose levels without depending on others. Only few brands provides this feature and you should definitely consider this one if you are buying the glucometer for a visually impaired person. Check this costly glucometer from Prodigy which talks out the test result for you. Large LCD backlit displays are other features to be looked for in such patients.
There you have it, the Top 10 factors to consider when choosing your first or next diabetes glucometer. Hope you liked this post. Don’t forget to share this article with your diabetes friends and family. If you have any more suggestions, please feel free to leave your comments below.