How do I Choose the Best Flash Glucose Meter?

Jeanne Roberts

Flash glucose meters are blood glucose monitoring devices used by people who have either Type I or Type 2 diabetes to make sure that their blood sugar levels do not exceed certain medically established parameters. A typical flash glucose meter is an oval, or elongated oval, with a slot at one end to accept a test strip and buttons that you can use to change the date, review your blood sugar history and set the code for your current container of test strips. Most of these meters are essentially the same, so choosing the best flash glucose meter is as simple as deciding what you are comfortable with using. Among the things to consider are the meter's size, how much blood it needs to test, its durability and whether it can read a strip's code automatically.

A person with diabetes checking her blood glucose levels.
A person with diabetes checking her blood glucose levels.

Some flash glucose meters do not need you to input a code into the meter but instead automatically input it when you insert the strip. This is an important consideration for many users when choosing a flash glucose meter. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t like dealing with trivial details, finds understanding instructions difficult and tedious or has difficulty toggling the little buttons, by all means, choose a non-coding flash glucose meter.

A second consideration might be size. Flash glucose meters come in sizes. The largest is about 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) long by 2.7 inches (6.9 cm) wide, and the smallest is about 1.7 inches (4.3 cm) long and 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide. These are important considerations for Type 2 diabetes sufferers, many of whom are older and whose fingers lack the dexterity they once had.

Another consideration might be the amount of pain you have to undergo to get a decent sample of blood. Flash glucose meters will calibrate blood sugar based on sample sizes ranging from .5 microliters to 10 microliters. The second is 20 times more than the first and requires deep and sufficient penetration by the blood lancets, the small needles that fit into the “pen” you will use to take your sample.

If simply sticking yourself with the lancet is a problem for you, it might not make any difference what flash glucose meter you choose, because that first jab will induce about the same amount of pain. In that case, you might want to consider how hard to have to squeeze your finger to draw 10 microliters of blood. That might be a greater source of pain, particularly if you have arthritis — notably the rheumatoid variety.

If your flash glucose monitor will stay at home, you probably don’t have to worry about durability or hardiness. If it travels to work, to play and on frequent vacations with you, you might want to weigh the advantages of a high-quality brand-name monitor. There are literally dozens of medical device companies that make flash glucose monitors, because of their profitability in addressing the rising rate of diabetes globally, and some of these companies have built a reputation for quality. You can check out consumer research pages on the Internet to read reviews of the different brands of flash glucose meters.

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