A Short Guide to Selecting Glucose Monitors for Diabetes Control
Glucose monitors are a mainstay of the treatment regimen for anyone with diabetes.Â Glucose monitors can differ greatly in form, but they all share a universal function–to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. Most glucose monitors utilize a test strip that contains chemicals that react to the blood in predictable ways that vary according to blood glucose concentration.Â This reaction can be measured electronically by glucose monitors to obtain a value for blood glucose concentration. While all approved blood glucose monitors are highly reliable, there are a number of differences in terms of weight, appearance, testing speed, testing convenience, and other factors that are important to diabetics. Remember that the need to test blood glucose levels is the single most important facet of diabetes control, so it is worth while to do some research before selecting glucose monitors.
One important component to consider when looking at the features of different glucose monitors is the size and ease of use of the glucose monitors. The monitor should be large enough to be easily used yet should be small enough to easily carry on your person. The actual optimum size will clearly vary by individual, so it is impossible to make a sweeping recommendation on the best size of glucose monitors. If possible, look at glucose monitors that require the least number of steps possible. Many glucose monitors can give consistent results after only a couple of steps, whereas others can be quite complicated to operate. Glucose monitors that are easy to use and operate have less of an impact on the patient’s life.
When shopping for glucose monitors, the diabetes patient should evaluate the quality of the glucose monitor’s display. A display that is difficult to read is clearly more difficult to use than other glucose monitors but, more importantly, a display that is difficult to read increases the likelihood of errors which could result in compromised treatment. Display quality is of particular importance to those who suffer from some of the eye difficulties that are a common side effect of diabetes. It is preferable to use glucose monitors that are backlit rather than using a dimmer front lit display. A backlit display is much easier to read in poorly lit areas.
For those who are considering using a form of continuous insulin delivery such as an insulin pump, the ability to keep track of historical glucose levels is vital. Many glucose monitors will save results for a week or more, but more data is needed to create the sort of base line that one would like to have when using automated insulin injection systems.Â For those who are familiar with basic computer accounting and/or charting software (think of spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel), some of the higher end glucose monitors offer the ability to interface with a computer (typically via universal serial bus (USB) connections) and download the results which can then be charted and shared with your physician.