This article is part of a series from our Diabetes Educators to answer questions we are frequently asked.
With so many different glucose meters (or glucometers) on the market, how do you know which one is right for you?
Why you need to know your blood glucose level
For people with all types of diabetes, long-term complications occur when your blood glucose levels are higher than the recommended ranges most of the time. Using a meter to test your levels can help to highlight when and what is affecting your glucose levels, so that you can make adjustments to your diet or exercise routine, or talk to your doctor about changing medications.
People who are using insulin to manage their diabetes (they could have type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes) can see what effect their insulin doses are having on their blood glucose level, and can use that information to help work out how much insulin they need.
Administering too much insulin could result in hypoglycaemia, which is dangerous in the short term.
So for insulin-dependent people, monitoring blood glucose levels in an absolute necessity; for everyone else with diabetes it’s an excellent idea for minimising the risk of complications.
Bells and whistles
Here are some questions to consider before you buy a meter:
- Do you want a meter that can send information to your phone?
- Do you want alarms to remind you when to check your blood glucose?
- Do you want to be able to record on the meter if you had eaten or were feeling unwell or had just done some exercise?
- Would you like to hook your meter up to your computer to look at different graphs and glucose profiles?
- Do you need a meter that can check for blood ketones as well? Your doctor, diabetes educator or diabetes specialist will be able to discuss that with you.
- Do you want a small meter or large numbers, a backlit screen?
- Or do you just want to know what your blood glucose level is?!
A diabetes educator is a good source of information about the different meters available and how they work.
Costs and subsidies
While the cost of the meters has reduced a lot over the years, it is still a consideration. Many private health funds will cover the cost of a glucometer initially and then every 2-3years after that. It’s worth checking your health insurance policy.
Sometimes a meter supplier will offer a money back scheme to reduce the initial cost. Some companies provide a lifetime warranty on the meters, including free upgrades if the meter stops working or if they stop producing the meter. These companies will usually send you batteries as well, free of charge.
For people with diabetes who require insulin, the NDSS will subsidise the cost of the strips for the meter. People with type 2 diabetes who don’t require insulin may not need to have a meter, although they can provide useful information about the effect of food, exercise, medications, stress and illness on your blood glucose levels. The NDSS will subsidise the cost of an initial 6 month supply of strips for people with diabetes who aren’t taking insulin. If more strips are needed after that, you will need to get a form filled out and sent to the NDSS by your GP or Credentialled Diabetes Educator. This will need to be done every 6 months, as required.
For more information on blood glucose monitoring, you may like to come along to MeterSmart, our free group education session for NDSS registrants where we talk about all things meters and monitoring!