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How do I Choose the Best Blood Sugar Monitor?

By John Wilfong
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are various factors to consider when choosing a blood sugar monitor. The handheld electronic items have evolved greatly and most are now compact and easy to use. Some points to help differentiate each type of blood sugar monitor are cost, ease of use, the amount of blood required and enhanced computer-related features.

Like most purchases, cost often is a key limiting factor. In the US, the cost for the monitors are generally between $25 US Dollars (USD) and $75 USD, though more sophisticated models can be more than $100 USD. The cost of the test strips, the small slips of specialized paper required for a proper blood sugar reading, should be the most important factor when considering cost. Some companies may even provide a monitor for free, but the strips may be more expensive than other options. In general, it costs about $100 USD for 100 test strips. Some insurance policies may pay for the blood sugar monitor, but typically they do not cover the entire cost of the strips.

Another consideration to picking the best blood sugar monitor for you is finding one that you find to be easy to use. The primary factor in the ease of use of a blood sugar monitor is how the blood is drawn. Each blood sugar monitor requires the user to draw blood using a lancet, or small, sharp needle device. Typically this is done by pricking the tip of a finger, usually a painful process. Some models of blood sugar monitor allow users to draw blood from different parts of the body, such as the upper arm, forearm, thigh or elsewhere on the hand that may cause less pain. This is known as multisite usage.

Related to ease of use is how much blood is required for each test and some brands and models require less blood than others. Some monitors can determine the level of glucose in the blood with a smaller amount of blood, which means a smaller prick to draw blood. Also, the amount of time it takes for the blood sugar monitor to obtain an accurate reading varies greatly from model to model. Some can produce a reading within five seconds, which can be important for a diabetic person suffering from low blood sugar.

Most modern devices are slim and compact, about the size of a cell phone. Some models also offer other features to help diabetics manage their diabetes. More internal computer memory, for example, will mean you can store more information. Some monitors can only hold the previous 10 readings, while other, usually more expensive, models are capable of holding up to 500 readings. For more enhanced interaction, some monitors can be linked to a computer with specialized software. Users can download their test results, organize them and track them over a period of months or years. The electronic results also make sharing results with your doctor more convenient.

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