December 23, 2014

Choosing and Using a Blood Glucose Meter

How would you choose a blood glucose meter? Most of us have very little choice that have insurance. If you don't have insurance, then it will depend on what you can afford. I am glad that some organizations are publishing information about choosing a blood glucose meters, but very disappointed in the lack of solid information. This information from the Mayo Clinic lacks information.

If you have diabetes, you'll likely need a blood glucose meter to measure and display the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Exercise, food, medications, stress, and other factors affect your blood glucose level. Using a blood glucose meter can help you better manage your diabetes by tracking any fluctuations in your blood glucose level.”

The above quote makes me wonder why people with diabetes get discouraged and don't test. When the Mayo Clinic staff can say, “you'll likely need” this is about the same at saying you may not need to test. They should say, “you will need.”

Many types of blood glucose meters are available, from basic models to more-advanced meters with multiple features and options. The cost of blood glucose meters and test strips varies, as can insurance coverage. Study your options before deciding which model to buy.”

I've said this before, but it is worth repeating, knowing what your insurance will cover, may help you avoid problems. The test strips are the real cost and many forget this. If your insurance will not cover the meters with all the bells and whistles, you could be ahead of the game. Some of the considerations are:
  1. If you are having eyesight problems, a meter with vocal reading of the number may be for you. If you want secrecy and not having everyone near you hearing the reading, then vocal reading of the blood glucose number is not for you.
  2. If you have hearing problems, then a good screen with few distractions and proper size numbers and properly backlit may serve you well.
  3. The more complicated the meter is, the less likely you will use it.
  4. The more costly the test strips are, the less likely you will test.

This is one time when a doctor may be of help if he/she has the time. If the doctor doesn't take the time, a pharmacist may be the answer. Most will, but sometimes you will need to wait a few minutes for them to complete the task they are doing. 

This by the Mayo Clinic writer makes me wonder if they really know anything about testing and using the equipment. “When selecting a blood glucose meter, it can help to know the basics of how they work. To use most blood glucose meters, you first insert a test strip into the device. Then you prick a clean fingertip with a special needle (lancet) to get a drop of blood. You carefully touch the test strip to the blood and wait for a blood glucose reading to appear on the screen.”

The lancing device holds the lancet. Then the lancing device is cocked and the end with the lancet is pressed against the side of the finger near the tip and the release is pressed. This is how the lancet brings blood to the surface for the meter with the test strip to be slid up to and into the edge of the blood. The blood is wicked into the test strip and then about five seconds later, a reading appears on the meter screen.

For other information about choosing a meter, read this article by the Mayo Clinic.

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