Choosing the Right Blood Glucose Meter

A Guide to Glucometers

By Jenilee Matz, MPH

Having a reliable, easy-to-use blood glucose meter, or glucometer, is a must if you have diabetes. This portable, battery-powered device quickly measures the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Regular blood sugar checks are a part of a good diabetes care plan. Test your blood sugar as often as your doctor directs to make sure your numbers stay within your established target range.

To use a glucometer, simply stick your skin with a lancet (a needle-like device that is separate from the meter, and is a single-use disposable), and place a drop of blood onto a test strip. Then insert the test strip into the glucometer, and your blood sugar level will be calculated. Your reading will appear on the screen of the glucose meter.

There are a variety of glucose meters on the market. When shopping for a glucometer, consider the following:

  • Accuracy. Most meters come with a control test strip or solution to check for accuracy. Note that even the most accurate glucometers aren’t as precise as blood tests you have done at your doctor’s office. A good blood glucose meter should measure your blood sugar within a 20 percent range of the blood tests done by your doctor.
     
  • Ease of use. Certain meters have more steps than others, some meters are more difficult to handle, and others are more challenging to clean. Also check how easy the test strips are to use. If possible, test the meter out before you make your purchase. Your doctor, diabetes educator, or pharmacist can make sure you’re using the meter correctly.
     
  • Size. Meters and display screens vary in size. A smaller meter may be easier to carry around, but a larger meter will be easier to read and handle. Also consider the size of its carrying case and if there is room in it for all of your testing supplies.
     
  • Speed. Some meters are faster than others. You may prefer a meter that runs a test quickly if you test your blood sugar several times each day.
     
  • Memory or ability to upload results to your computer. Glucometers can store hundreds or even thousands of readings in their memories. Check to see how many readings the meter can hold. Most meters allow you to upload readings to your computer where a program will analyze the results. You can email the results to your doctor, or print them out and bring them with you to your next appointment.
     
  • Alternate site testing. If you need to draw blood from somewhere other than your fingertip, such as your upper arm or thigh, buy a meter approved for alternate site testing.
     
  • Cost. Your insurance company may only pay for certain meters. Call your insurance company before you make your purchase. Also look into how much the test strips and batteries cost, and note if the batteries are rechargeable.
     
  • Special features, such as:
    • A "voice." The meter will announce your readings so you don't have to look at the screen. This is helpful during nighttime blood sugar checks and ideal for people with vision problems.
    • A light-up screen. This can make nighttime testing easier.
    • Reminders and alerts. Some glucometers will remind you to test for ketones, for example.


These meters are available at Walgreens:

Name
Meter
Memory
Test Time
Sample Size (µL)*
Features and Comments
Walgreens True Result Blood Glucose Meter
500 tests, 7-, 14- & 30-day avg.
As fast as 4 sec. Very
Small 0.5 µL
Advanced performance, no-coding system for easy, accurate testing. Strip release button eliminates handling of strips. Lifetime meter warranty. Data uploading capability. Alternate site testing. Ketone testing reminders.
Walgreens TRUE2go Blood Glucose Meter
99 tests
As fast as 4 sec. Very
Small 0.5 µL
World's smallest meter. Meter easily attaches to the top of a vial of TRUEtest strips for true on-the-go convenience. No coding simplifies testing. Comes in Red, Purple or Blue.
Accu-Check Aviva Blood Glucose Meter
500 tests, 7-, 14- & 30-day avg.
5 sec.
Very Small 0.6 µL
Easy to handle and use, with two simple steps. Large, wide test strip fills quickly and easily. Over 150 quality checks to detect and prevent unreliable results. Alternate site testing.
Bayer Contour Blood Glucose Meter
480 tests, 7-, 14- & 30-day avg.
5 sec.
Very Small 0.6 µL
Easy and accurate testing starts here. Large, easy-to-read display. Fast 5-second test time. No Coding™ technology eliminates inaccurate results due to miscoding.
FreeStyle Lite Blood Glucose Meter
400 tests, 7-, 14- & 30-day avg.
5 sec.
Very Small 0.3 µL
Small, compact meter with backlight display and test strip port light. No coding. Very small sample size. Use with FreeStyle Lite® Blood glucose test strips with ZipWik™ tabs for easier appication and fast uptake.
OneTouch Ultra2 Blood Glucose Meter
500 tests, 7-, 14- & 30-day avg.
5 sec.
Small 1 µL
Helps you see if your food and portion choices are working so you stay in range. Two-way scrolling buttons and a backlight make it easy to read and operate. Download ports for data management. Alternate site testing.
©iStockphoto.com/Fertnig
Reviewed by Enoch Choi, MD on March 12, 2012
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