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Thirty years ago, blood glucose monitors became available for diabetics to use at home. Before that time, only urine strips were used to monitor ketones in the urine that were an indicatino of blood sugar levels. Since then, modern technology has made it possible to monitor your own glucose levels by using portable devices that can be carried everywhere you may go, whether it is at home or on a vacation.
There are many types of monitors to choose from. It is important, however, to choose the most accurate glucose monitor that is best-suited for your needs. There are some things to keep in mind before making a decision on the right one for you.
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Choosing The Most Accurate Glucose Monitor
There are several factors to consider before you decide on a glucose monitor. It may be a good idea to ask your physician if they can recommend a certain brand or type as they are familiar with your specific situation. Before making a final decision, here are some questions that you may want to ask.
How much will it cost? Some insurance companies will only pay for certain glucose meters and not the never-ending supply of strips or lancets. Other insurance companies will only pay for a monitor in a certain price range.
What is the budget range for the supplies needed for the monitor? The cost of the strips used with a glucose monitor usually outweigh the cost of a monitor. Some companies may offer their monitor for free to lure you into paying for their supplies on an ongoing basis, which often are more expensive than those of other brands.
Is it easy to use? Some diabetics experience problems with their vision. Does the monitor have a voice module or a larger display so that the you can read the results? Is there a backlight available so that the monitor can be easily read during the night? Are the strips easy to grip? Will your caregiver be able to use it to monitor if you are unable to, such as in an unconscious or elderly patient?
Does the monitor offer alternative sites for testing? Some of the new monitors allow to use the forearm or palm for testing. Others only allow the fingers to be used.
How much of a blood sample is required? The blood sample sizes range from 0.3 to 4.0 microliters.
What kind of tech support does the monitor offer? Do they provide a toll-free number that you can call if you have questions?
Does the monitor require a special code when you order new testing strips? Some monitors require a special code programmed into them when it comes time to replace the testing strips. If you cannot find the original packaging, you may not have the necessary code.
Does the monitor come with software? – There are some monitors that provide computer software so that you can upload a log to your computer to help keep track of your daily blood sugar levels.
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Popular Brands of Glucose Monitors
Even though the American Diabetes Association does not recommend or endorse any one monitor over another, there is a list of monitors listed in their publication called "The Diabetes Forecast" that has a consumer guide of the monitors available. The list includes.
Freestyle Freedom Lite or Freestyle Lite – The blood sample needed for both of these monitors is 0.3 and no user code is needed to operate them. The Freestyle Lite has a backlight for easy visibility. You can take a blood sample from other area besides just your finger.
WaveSense Jazz - The blood sample needed is 0.5 and you can take blood from other sites besides the finger. A backlight is incorporated to lite up the background.
Breeze2 – The breeze two requires 1.0 for the blood sample and does not require code to operate it. This monitor has computer download capability.
Codefree – This monitor requires 0.7 for the blood sample and does not require code to operate.
Truetrack – requires 1.0 in blood sample and does require a code to operate.
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How Accurate Are Monitors Today?
All glucose monitors undergo extensive testing to be certain of their accuracy, and all of them claim to be the most accurate blood glucose monitor. Once the monitor leaves the manufacturing and testing facility, however, there is always the possibility that something can go wrong, such as.
- Monitors that are dirty
- Test strips that are outdated
- Monitors or strips that are not stored at room temperature
- Too small of a blood drop
- Monitor is not properly calibrated to the current box of strips
It is also important to note that it is important to operate the monitors as per the instructions and handbooks that come with them. This will also assure an accurate reading of the blood sugar levels.
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American Diabetes Association
The Diabetes Forcast
By Nancy Klobassa, R.N., and Peggy Moreland, R.N.