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From Illinois, USA:

My husband was just recently diagnosed with diabetes. Can you please give me some pointers on choosing a glucose monitor (best quality, best buy for the money, and anything else I need to be aware of)?


All the meters on the market are reasonably accurate when used properly. Some are easier than others to use properly. Consumer Reports magazine reviewed several meters in their October, 1996 issue. Since then, there has been at least one new meter released.

Issues to consider include:

  • Do you need a meter with a memory?
  • Do you want a meter that can download its memory to a computer?
  • Do you want a meter that can record your insulin dose and other information?
  • Do you prefer individually wrapped strips in foil, or would you prefer a bottle that contains 25-50 strips? (Some people find the foil wrapped strips difficult to open, but they are less prone to spoilage if you use the meter in an area with humidity or you have a meter that you use infrequently. They take less space to carry around.)
  • Does speed of testing make a difference?
  • Do you want a meter that "beeps" to prompt you or would you prefer a silent meter?
  • Look at the carrying case it comes with to see if it is convenient for you.
  • Do you have to change batteries frequently, or do you get a new meter when the batteries are low? Can you get the batteries easily?
  • Check the calibration procedure to see if you are comfortable with it.
  • Find out if the meter needs to be cleaned.
  • If you will be using the meter at high altitudes or extremes of temperature, check to make sure the one you like is okay.
  • Look at the back section of Diabetes Forecast magazine. There is a section that advertises mail order diabetes products. Many local pharmacies will match prices in Forecast. The difference in initial cost of the meters is small compared to the ongoing cost of strips.
  • Keep in mind that most manufacturers of meters offer mail rebates after you buy the meter and trade-in rebates if you mail them back your old meter. If you don't like your original purchase, you can always trade it in for another for fairly little money.
  • I find many people prefer one brand of meter for home use and a different brand to carry around.
  • I suggest you go to a large pharmacy or surgical supply store and ask them to demonstrate the different meters and tell you the advantages and disadvantages.
  • Finally, many meters have been rated at children with DIABETES.


[Editor's comment: Two more ideas:

  • If you have access to a Diabetes Nurse Educator, they can advise your husband on what meter is best for him. (In my opinion, the meter that's "best" is the one that the patient themself decides is the one they're most likely to use.)
  • Don't, don't, don't trade your meter for a new meter just because you're told the new meter will be "free." Sometimes, you might trade an older Ford to get a new Mercedes; but at times, you might be trading your Ford for a Yugo. Ask your diabetes team if the trade would be a "good deal" for you.

Original posting 2 Dec 96


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