We spent over 50 hours researching and testing 16 different types of blood glucose meters and found that accuracy, ease of use, and cost were most important. The Bayer Contour Complete Diabetes Testing Kit scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. We loved that everything we needed to monitor of blood glucose levels were included in this kit. It has test strips, lancets, solution, instructions, and a convenient case to name a few items. This all inclusive kit made blood glucose monitoring less complicated and having all the components in one case made it easy to keep up with when it came time to test.
Blood Glucose Meter Comparison
Blood Glucose Meter Buying Guide
What is a Blood Glucose Meter?
A blood glucose meter is a device that takes a few drops of blood that is put on a test strip and inserted into the meter. After a few seconds the meter gives the user their blood glucose level. They are typically small, handheld devices that are very easy to use.
There are many different types of blood glucose meters available from the most basic devices to more advanced models that have many additional features and options. Cost of these meters varies as well and depending on your insurance provider, if you have one, the cost may be covered.
What to Look for in a Blood Glucose Meter
There are several things that you need to look for when you are shopping for the right blood glucose meter for your needs. We have outlined the most common factors that are the most important in determining whether a particular model is right for you.
- Easy to Use – If you have to fight to understand how to use your blood glucose meter, chances are you will not use it the way you are supposed to. Ease of use is very important because then you will test like you should and stay on top of your glucose levels. Ease of use will include features such as an easy to read screen, buttons that are easy to work with, test strips that are sturdy and reliable, and those that require a small blood sample. Some models even talk which are great for those that are vision-impaired.
- No Coding – It is not convenient to have to code the meter every time you break into a new pack of test strips. Inputting the new code every time you use new strips leaves a lot of room for error. While some users don’t mind having to do this, those models that offer code-free features are definitely favored.
- Accurate Results – You want to look for a blood glucose meter that is known for its accuracy. Accurate test results are important for maintaining the right glucose levels and subsequently, better health. Check reviews to see what other users are saying about accuracy when you find a model that you are interested in.
- Requires a small blood sample – The smaller the size of the blood sample the meter needs, the less painful it is to test. Also, if the meter requires a significant amount of blood for the test, it’s a lot more likely that you can get an “insufficient blood” error that will result in you having to stick yourself again as well waste a test strip.
- Reading Storage – Depending on the model, blood glucose meters can store hundreds and sometimes even thousands of readings along with the date and time to help you track the consistency of your test results. This is very helpful for giving information to the doctor as well.
- Alternate Site Testing Capability – Being able to take blood from other places is important to give your fingertips a break. Some meters allow testing with blood from arms, legs or even the abdomen. Using alternate testing sites is something that shouldn’t be done unless you have discussed it with your doctor first.
- Affordable supplies – The most expensive cost associated with diabetes blood glucose testing is the test strips themselves. Prices vary, ranging anywhere from $8 to $50 or more per 50 strip box. Some of the companies that have higher priced test strips may offer co-pay assistance to help lower the cost so it fits into this range.
- Averages, Flagging and more – The majority of blood glucose meters can calculate average readings over a particular time period, usually 7, 14 or 30 days. Other models may allow you to flag particular readings and add custom notes so you can see which readings were before a meal or after, etc.
- Data Transfer – If your blood glucose meter has data transfer capability, this means that you can transfer your information from the meter to your computer via a USB cable. This is a great way to keep a spreadsheet of your results or be able to email results to your doctor between visits.
- Size and Portability – If you travel a lot you will want to look for a blood glucose meter that is easily transported. The smaller ones are easy to travel with but they usually have less functionality and features as well. If your meter is larger but has a convenient carry case, this will usually take care of the portability factor.
- Test Result Speed – The average time to get results from a blood glucose meter is usually 5 seconds or less. The more advanced models, especially those that allow you to add more blood to the strip if there is not enough the first time, can take several minutes to provide a result. The faster the test result the more convenient it is but don’t make speeds the only factor, as accuracy is more important than speed.
- Additional Data – Some of the newer blood glucose monitors provide additional information than just the blood glucose level. Some will provide blood pressure and A1C as well, which is the average reading over a 2-3 month period.
- Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance – Depending on the blood glucose monitor, it may need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Others may have electronic alerts that will let you know when it’s time to clean them. In addition, make sure you know the type of batteries that your meter takes and have some extras on hand.
How to Use the Blood Glucose Meter
Follow these tips to get the best results from your blood glucose meter.
- When you first start using your meter, compare your readings with those you are getting from the doctor’s lab to make sure that the readings are accurate. Your doctor will tell you how often to check.
- Read the manual and the insert that comes with the strips to ensure that you use both the meter and the strips properly. When storing the meter and supplies, store them in a clean and dry place.
- Only use the test strips for the model you have. Using other test strips can result in inaccurate readings. Don’t leave your test strips exposed to air for more than a couple of minutes before you test. The vial that contains the strips needs to be kept closed tightly and you should only use test strips that have not expired.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before testing. A tiny bit of sugar on your hands can alter the accuracy of your test results and dirt can as well. Another benefit to washing your hands is that the warm water and the action used to dry your hands brings the blood to your fingertips which make it much easier to get a good sample. Another method of increasing blood flow to the fingertips is snapping your fingers.
- Don’t squeeze your finger before pricking it with the lancet device. This can usually lead to a poor finger prick and result in inaccurate test results that have to be repeated.
- If your glucose levels seems to be changing rapidly, always test with blood taken from your finger for the most accurate results.
Factors That Can Affect Glucose Readings
There are several factors that will determine the accuracy of the test results you get from your blood glucose meter. A couple of those factors include the quality of the blood glucose meter that you purchase and the quality of the test strips too. There are other factors that can also affect your test results.
- Technique – Unfortunately, the biggest cause of testing errors are the ones doing the testing. The good news is that learning how to perform the tests properly is not overly complicated. Your doctor can show you how to use it if you are not sure or even your pharmacist would be able to help. The blood glucose meters come with instruction booklets, so as long as you read that and follow the steps, you should have no problem getting accurate test results.
- Testing Site Cleanliness – Food, drink, lotion, makeup and other types of residue on your hands can affect the blood glucose reading. It is important that you wash and dry your hands thoroughly before you test. Use an alcohol swab for extra assurance and let the finger dry before you begin.
- Environment – Environmental factors like humidity, room temperature, and altitude can affect the results of the test. Depending on the meter you purchase, there may be instructions that show how to get the right readings even under those environmental conditions.
- Non Brand Test Strips – Test strips are the most costly thing about your blood glucose meter. It may be tempting to get generic strips to save money but the majority of higher quality monitors are not designed to be used with generic strips. Make sure that any generic strips you may want to try are 100% compatible with your blood glucose meter.
Diabetes affects millions of Americans. Blood glucose meters make keeping track of your glucose levels much easier. When you have diabetes, it is important to be able to keep track of your glucose levels to avoid any potential complications from arising.
Having the right blood glucose meter makes getting these readings convenient and when it is the right meter for your needs, you can be reassured that you are getting accurate results that will help you safely manage your blood sugar levels. The top rated blood glucose meters featured here and the buyer’s guide are designed to help you get the information you need to make an informed decision. With this information you can confidently narrow down the list and find the blood glucose meter that is perfect for you.