Checking Your Blood Glucose | Diabetes Discharge | Nucleus Health
Blood Glucose Meters for Type 2 Diabetes
Learn about the latest developments in meters that test your blood sugar levels.
By Dennis Thompson Jr.
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
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Blood glucose meters allow you to monitor your blood sugar levels at home and get your diabetes under control. Today's devices have come a long way from the first meters, which were bulky and difficult to use. You can now get a meter for less than that will give you consistently accurate blood sugar readings.
Beyond the traditional blood glucose meters, there are now also more high-tech continuous glucose monitoring systems available for use. Both types have a variety of features, so you should do your homework before deciding which is right for you.
Blood Sugar Testing: Traditional Blood Glucose Meters
Over the years, blood glucose meters have become more convenient, less expensive, and more accurate than their predecessors. The basic mechanics of the meters, however, have remained the same. To get a blood sugar reading, type 2 diabetes patients must:
- Make a skin prick, usually by means of a spring-loaded lancet, to get a drop of blood.
- Place the blood on a test strip.
- Slide the test strip into the blood glucose meter, which analyzes the blood and calculates your blood sugar level.
About three dozen blood glucose meters for blood sugar testing are on the market today. Before choosing one, consult with your doctor or diabetes educator and keep in mind the following pros and cons.
Traditional Meter Pros:
- Price.Most traditional glucose meters are very affordable and often are covered by insurance.
- Accuracy.When used properly, these meters provide accurate blood sugar readings.
- Ease of use.Manufacturers have been able to make blood glucose meters fairly easy to use after years of development.
- Versatility.Blood glucose meters offer a wide array of extras. Many devices store hundreds of past test results in their internal memory and allow you to download that data to your personal computer for easy recordkeeping. Others are "speaking" meters that talk you through instructions and tell you your blood sugar results verbally — a helpful feature for people with type 2 diabetes who have vision problems.
Traditional Meter Cons:
- Invasive.You have to draw blood every time you perform blood sugar testing. This can become unpleasant for some. Many monitors allow you to prick areas that are less sensitive than your fingertips, but the results may not be as accurate.
- They only provide a "snapshot."Each individual blood sugar reading only tells you what your blood sugar level is at that particular time. To get an idea of how your levels fluctuate, you will have to perform many tests throughout the day.
- Price of the test strips.The meter itself isn't expensive, but the cost of the test strips can add up. The strips may be only $.75 to each, but you need to consider how many times you'll test yourself each week to get an idea of the real costs.
- Strips are not interchangeable.You must use the test strips produced for your specific meter. If you use strips designed for another meter, you will not receive reliable results.
- You must remember to test.You have to remind yourself to make blood sugar testing a priority so you don't forget when it's time for your next reading.
Blood Sugar Testing: Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems are the latest advance in blood sugar testing. These devices provide a constant stream of information regarding your blood sugar levels via continuous monitoring. Here's how a CGM works:
- The user inserts a tiny sensor under the skin. This sensor constantly checks the glucose levels in the tissue.
- A transmitter attached to the sensor gathers information about glucose levels and communicates the data to a monitor through radio waves.
- A wireless monitor receives the information and displays it to be reviewed.
There are only a few federally approved CGM systems on the market. Like traditional blood glucose monitors, CGM systems come with their own pros and cons.
- Information on blood sugar trends.Because the blood sugar testing is constant, a CGM system can provide much more detailed information about your type 2 diabetes. You can see exactly when your blood glucose tends to spike or fall, and use that information to make appropriate lifestyle changes.
- Immediate information.The CGM system can alert you if your blood glucose is rising or falling dangerously, so you can take immediate action.
- Less invasive.You still must insert a foreign object into your skin, but it only has to be changed every few days or once a week.
- Cost.CGM devices are much more expensive than traditional blood glucose monitors and can cost hundreds of dollars.
- Accuracy issues.CGM devices now on the market are not as accurate and reliable as standard blood sugar meters. For example, there can be a time lag before the tissue fluid being monitored reaches the same glucose level as your blood. You should use a traditional meter to check your glucose levels before acting on a CGM reading that shows a sudden rise or drop in blood sugar.
Video: How To Test Blood Sugar | How To Use Glucometer | How To Check Blood Glucose | (2018)
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