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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting the Right Glucose Meter

By Robert Mann

Most diabetes patients prefer the ease of checking their blood glucose levels themselves rather than making frequent trips to a lab. If their condition requires frequent tests, having their own meter is definitely more convenient.

Picking the proper glucose meter, however, is not necessarily a straightforward process. A doctor should tell diabetes patients all of the things they need to take into consideration and what to look for when they choose their meter. For example, someone stricken with arthritis in their hands would find dealing with the small test strips a struggle. Some meters have smaller readouts than others, which would be difficult for those with failing vision to read. Everyone has specific issues or needs they must take into consideration.

Beyond personal needs, there other things to take into account before selecting a personal glucose meter.

1. Display factors: Having enough light and a large enough display is a key feature for the right meter.

2. Insurance considerations: The patient should always check with their insurance company first. Some health insurance companies cover only a certain type or brand of meter or may pay only up to a set amount. Knowing if the insurance coverage has limitations is important, along with ensuring that they will cover the test strips.

3. Expense: For someone with a fixed income or with no insurance, cost is big factor in the decision making process. An affordable meter does not necessarily mean the strips that go with it are affordable. When picking a meter, confirming the price of the strips is vital.

4. Extra features: Some people may want or require more special features in order to help them better manage their disease. These include:

* Providing rapid results: Some meters can have the results in as little as 5 seconds.

* Sample sizes: Because some patients can have difficulty getting a large enough blood sample for their meters to analyze, there are new meters that get accurate results with smaller sample sizes.

* Memory to store readings: If a meter can keep test results in memory, this can prove to be a great help for both the patient and the doctor for tracking glucose levels. Many meters can hold as much as the last 1000 results.

* Download of results to a computer: Being able to download test results to a computer provides a simple way to send the results to the doctor.

* Using alternate testing sites: There are meters that can take samples from other locations than just the fingertips, like the thigh, forearm, or the base of the thumb. This feature is good for patients who are required to test more frequently.

When purchasing the best glucose meters, diabetes patients should consider all of these things before deciding on the most appropriate product for their particular needs. Two of the most important things to think about is how well the patient understands the meter's features and how easy it will be to use.

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