A person can have diabetes for a long time, and manage the disease successfully. The key is managing the blood sugar known as blood glucose. Keep your glucose within the parameters that your doctor sets for you, and you will have an excellent chance of preventing the complications of diabetes.
Common Diabetic Complications You'll Want to Prevent
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Nerve damage (aka, "neuropathy")
- Kidney diseases and damage (aka, "diabetic nephropathy")
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Diabetic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar coma
- Atherosclerosis, which in turn can lead to various types of heart disease and sudden cardiac events such as heart attack
Learn about the various tests that are used to diagnose Diabetes, as well as monitor the ongoing progress of the disease after it has been diagnosed.
If you're buying a blood glucose meter, you'll want to read the details of how to perform a glucose monitoring self-test with a glucose meter. Below, this article will examine the different features you need to know about when selecting a glucose meter.
Glucose Meter Features to Consider
Some diabetics are directed by their doctors to check their own blood sugar (glucose) levels on their own, at home or wherever, three to five times each day. For that kind of maintenance you'll want a device that can go wherever you go and won't require a longtime or a lot of work to use. Luckily, glucose meters have been made small enough for exactly that purpose for a few decades now. Still, there are features within the various models that you'll want to analyze before you buy.
Common Features: The most common features that virtually all home glucose meters have now are:
- Small sample size
- Results in seconds (usually five to ten seconds)
- Alternate site testing (the ability to draw blood from other places besides just the fingertip)
The Fine Details: Some of the functions that still vary from model to model are:
Calibrating and coding vs. "auto-code" or "no-code" models. The older versions, which are still on the market, require a manual calibration. This is important to get right because the calibration affects the accuracy of the test result. The newer models that require no calibration are able to "auto-code" themselves when you insert the specified type of test strip into the glucose meter.
Size and Shape. Most meters fit in your hand. Combination blood pressure monitor/blood glucose meters are quite a bit bigger because of the blood pressure component. There are also meters that are even smaller than the "palm-sized" meters. Usually these smaller meters have the words "micro" or "mini" in their name. The smaller the device, the more places you can carry it (pocket, purse, etc.) when you go out for errands or even travel. Don't forget that you'll also need to carry a lancing device and test strips to perform the blood test. The monitor is not all you'll be carrying with you.
Sample Size. The lancing device is governed by a spring-loaded tip that pierces the skin to draw a small amount of blood. You put the blood drop onto the test strip, and then insert the strip into the machine so that the glucose level in the drop of blood can be measured in the monitor. Different devices require different amounts of blood to perform the test. While they can all be classified in the "small skin prick" category, the degree of pain does intensify as the sample size increases. So, for the least amount of pain, you may want shop for a device that requires the smallest sample you can find.
More about sample size. The most common devices require sample sizes that range from 0.3 microliters as the smallest, to 1.5 microliters as the largest blood sample. A few options that require only the 0.3 microliter sample size are:
- FreeStyle Freedom Lite by Abbott Diabetes Care
- FreeStyle Lite by Abbott Diabetes Care
- Glucocard 01 by Arkray
- Glucocard 01-mini by Arkray
- MyGlucoHealth Wireless by Entra Health Systems
Test Result Storage. Most devices range from holding 100 tests to 450 tests. Although a few hold many more, such as the OneTouch UltraSmart, which holds over 3,000 test results. In addition to merely storing the test results, some meters will actually show you your overall blood glucose control over seven, fourteen, thirty, or sixty day periods of time. This is great data to watch so that you can make adjustments for better control. Some devices show the trend results on the device's own screen, others require you to connect the device to your computer with either a USB connection, or wirelessly via bluetooth. The device manufacturers typically have a software program you can download to upload your results and get feedback.
Temperature Considerations. Temperature matters. The blood glucose meter may not work in extreme cold weather or extreme hot weather. This feature may not be so important if you feel relatively certain you'll be able to do your test indoors. If you are active outdoors, and that activity takes you to extreme temperatures such as skiing, mountain-climbing, or desert-like areas, you'll want to inspect the temperature ranges, usually visible on the glucose meter's box.