Blood glucose– commonly referred to as blood sugar– is typically measured in milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL. When doctors test for diabetes, they usually perform two blood sugar tests on two separate occasions. Two readings of 126 mg/dL or greater confirm the presence of the chronic, incurable disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. A fasting blood sugar level that’s between 100 and 125 mg/dL is a sign of prediabetes.
In healthy individuals, sugar provides vital energy to cells. But in people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar has the same effect as a slow-acting poison. High blood sugar makes it difficult for the pancreas to function properly.
One of the most important functions that the pancreas performs is produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin is like a delivery service that helps transport the energy contained in the sugar in your blood to your organs. Left untreated, diabetes damages the pancreas– and all the organs in your body suffer as a result.
Since diabetes affects all organs, there are many harmful conditions that can arise as a result of it. Diabetes causes strokes, heart attacks, nerve damage, erectile dysfunction and even blindness. Diabetics with kidneys damage rely on dialysis machines to remove excess waste from their bodies.
If you have diabetes or you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels, a blood glucose meter will let you check your blood health on your own. Keep reading to learn about the best blood glucose meters that are available online.
Here are the best blood glucose meters you can buy:
- The Care Touch Blood Glucose Monitoring System is simple, affordable and easy to use.
- Accu-Chek’s Aviva Plus is one of the most accurate blood glucose meters on the market, according to Consumer Reports.
- The Prodigy Diabetes Testing Kit delivers audio blood sugar readings in four different languages.
- The OneTouch UltraMini is small enough to fit into your pocket and comes with everything you need to track your blood glucose level while on the go.
- If you have an Android smartphone or an iPhone, you may want to consider getting a Dario Blood Glucose Meter Starter Kit. Dario is one of the few glucometers that has its own app.
The most user-friendly blood glucose meter
Care Touch Blood Glucose Monitoring System
Self-testing for blood sugar can be a pain in more ways than one. Some glucometers are a hassle to use and require the purchase of expensive test strips. The Care Touch Blood Glucose Monitoring System addresses both of these concerns with ease of use features and inexpensive test strip refills.
- Inexpensive. This glucometer is not only cheap compared to other similar products, its test strips are also reasonably priced.
- Easy to use. There’s a built-in test strip ejector that’s quite handy and a code scanner that saves you the hassle of having to enter in new codes every time you insert a new batch of test strips.
- Quick results. Five seconds is all the time that’s required to find out the status of your blood health with this device.
- Data annotation. You can add a “post meal” or “pre-meal” flag to any test result.
- Complete kit. Along with the monitor itself, you also get 100 test strips, a lancing device, 30 lancelets, and even a carrying bag and a battery.
- Small blood sample. This device only requires 0.5 microliters of blood. That’s a very small amount. The average drop of blood measures roughly 50 microliters.
- Not as accurate as some glucometers. The main downside to consider is that this glucometer isn’t as accurate as some. Readings obtained with this unit may show blood glucose levels that are up to 20% higher or lower than they actually are. While this range falls within the FDA’s standards, competing blood glucose meters provide more accurate readings.
In a nutshell
If you’re looking for an inexpensive basic glucometer that’s easy to use, this one is worth considering. However, it may make sense to invest in a blood glucose meter that has more features and is more precise– especially if your health care plan will cover your expenses.
The most accurate blood glucose meter
Accu-Chek’s Aviva Plus
The FDA specifies that all glucometers that are designed for home readings must fall within 20% of blood glucose readings obtained in the lab. That 20% variance can make it difficult to accurately check your blood glucose with some home glucometers. That’s where The Accu-Chek Aviva Plus Blood Glucose Meter comes in. It is one of the most accurate blood glucose meters you’ll find.
- Easy to configure. Like most modern glucometers, this one is equipped with an electronic code reader which saves you the trouble of entering the test strip codes in yourself.
- Highly accurate. Accuracy is one of this device’s best features. Both Consumer Reports and the diaTribe Foundation awarded the Aviva Plus high marks for accuracy when they put it to the test.
- Data transfer. With the Aviva Plus, you can download your test results to your computer. This is useful for tracking your blood sugar fluctuations over time.
- All-inclusive kit. Like most glucometers, this one comes with a lancelet and some testing strips.
- Adjustable lancelets. The depth of Accu-Chek’s patented Softclix lancelet is adjustable. If you’re sensitive to lancelet pricks and you dread taking a reading, this feature alone may convince you to try out this glucometer.
- Data annotation. You can use markers to indicate if you’ve taken a test before or after a meal.
- Pricey test strips. The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here. This glucometer test strips are somewhat expensive.
In a nutshell
The Accu-Chek Aviva Plus is very accurate and the device itself is reasonably priced. The test strips, however, are a bit pricey. If your health care plan will cover that expense, this glucometer might be your best option.
The best talking blood glucose meter
Prodigy Diabetes Testing Kit
The O’Well Prodigy Diabetes Testing Kit is one of just a handful of blood glucose meters that delivers audio test results in more than one language. In addition to the built-in speaker, there’s also a headphone jack you can use if you need more volume or need to use the device discreetly. This makes the Prodigy one of the best blood glucose meters to use if you’re visually impaired.
- Delivers audio test results. This talking blood glucose meter from O’Well supports not only spoken English blood test results, but also in Spanish, French and Arabic.
- Headphone jack. In addition to a small speaker, there’s an audio jack that you can use to listen to the voice interface through a pair of headphones.
- Stores hundreds of test results. You can save up to 450 blood sugar test results with this device. Each test result is time stamped.
- Excellent value. The starter kit that you get when you buy the Prodigy has 100 test strips, 100 lancelets and even a handy carrying case.
- Data transfer. All you have to do is connect your Prodigy to your computer via USB and transfer a file if you want to analyze your test results or give them to your doctor.
- Doesn’t come with a USB cable. If you don’t already have a USB cable, you’ll need to buy one separately if you intend to download your test results to your computer.
In a nutshell
The O’Well’s Prodigy glucometer’s main feature is the fact that it talks. Other features like data transfer and its large data storage capacity add extra value.
The best portable blood glucose meter
The OneTouch UltraMini Glucose Monitoring System is ultra-slim and pocket-sized. It is one of the smallest and most portable products of its kind. If you’re traveling and you need to check your blood glucose while on vacation, this glucometer is a space saver. You can even download your data to your computer with a USB cable.
- You can take it anywhere. The makers of the OneTouch UltraMini have gone out of their way to design a blood glucose meter that is extremely portable.
- It comes with a carrying case. The handy carrying case that comes with the kit is useful for staying organized on the go.
- Supports data transfer. You can plug the UltraMini into a computer and download your test results through a USB cable.
- Fast test results. Given its small size, you may assume that the UltraMini is slow compared to larger glucometers– but this isn’t the case. It only requires 5 seconds to perform the calculation.
- Lacks an autocode feature. Even though the UltraMini has many convenient features, there is one potential hassle: you have to recode the UltraMini every time you insert a new batch of test strips. Other glucose meters will scan your test strip code for you.
- Doesn’t come with test strips. The UltraMini comes with 10 lancelets, but doesn’t come with any testing strips. You’ll need to buy those separately if you decide to get this glucometer.
In a nutshell
When it comes to portability features, this glucometer is hard to beat. The kit comes with everything you need to test your blood sugar on the go. If you rely on a different glucometer when at home, you won’t need to recode the device much because you probably won’t be changing the test strips that often.
The best blood glucose meter that works with smartphones
Dario Blood Glucose Meter Starter Kit
The Dario Blood Glucose Meter Starter kit provides a look at what the future of at-home blood glucose testing might look like. The kit comes with everything you need to turn your smartphone into a glucometer, plus all the lancing devices and testing strips you need to get started. If you’re looking for a portable blood sugar meter with advanced analytical features, this glucometer is worth a look.
- Works with smartphones. This handy blood sugar meter snaps right onto the bottom of your phone.
- Saves space. Instead of two devices, all you need is one– your smartphone.
- Compatible with both iOS and Android. Dario makes two different kits: one for iPhone and one for Android.
- All-in-one kit. The kit comes with a lancing device, and testing strips– all of which fit neatly into the glucometer itself, which in turn attaches to the bottom of your iPhone or Android phone.
- Advanced data analysis. Dario’s app lets you do things like count carbs, share your results with your doctor, monitor your physical activities and more.
- Emergency alerts. You can configure the Dario to send out alerts automatically if your blood sugar reaches a critical level.
- Pricey test strips. If your health care plan doesn’t cover test strips, you may save money by going with one of the other glucometers mentioned above.
In a nutshell
The best thing about this next-generation blood glucose meter from Dario Health is that it gives you the ability to monitor your blood with your iPhone or Android. But even though the Dario blood glucose testing system is innovative, other systems are more accurate– and the proprietary test strips are on the pricey side.
Buying guide for blood glucose meters
All blood glucose meters need to be calibrated. However, different glucose meters use different calibration methods. Some smartphone-compatible glucose meters are equipped with scanners or let you calibrate your device with your smartphone. Other types of glucose meters come with removable code chips, which you can use to calibrate your device.
Test result delivery time
Some glucometers deliver results in just a few seconds, but others require longer wait periods. Even though a few extra seconds of wait time may not seem like a big difference, it may be easier to establish a self-testing routine with a glucometer that delivers quick results.
Blood volume required for sample
The minimum amount required is 0.3 microliters, but most glucometers require 0.4 to 0.5 microliters of blood. Blood glucose meters that require more blood may require you to perform the test all over again if you don’t get a large enough sample the first time.
The Food and Drug Administration requires 95% of all measured blood glucose meter values to be within 15% of a lab measurement and 99% of those same values must fall within the 20% range. However, some glucometers are more accurate than others. Most highly accurate glucometers are more expensive to use over time because their test strips are more expensive.
Before you invest in a glucometer, be sure to check with your insurance to find out what’s covered and what’s not. If your insurance plan includes DME (Durable Medical Equipment) coverage, you may not have to pay for test strips.
Portability vs. accuracy
Most modern electronic blood glucose meters are small enough to travel with, but some are specifically used on the go. These types of glucometers usually come with compartmentalized travel cases, which help you stay organized while traveling. The tradeoff here is that most portable glucometers aren’t quite as accurate as ones that are designed for at-home use.
Different blood glucose meter manufacturers offer different support options. There’s usually some type of toll-free number you can call if you need help. However, some manufacturers only provide support via email.
Test strip replacement expenses
Some test strips– particularly ones that work with more accurate glucometers– are costly to replace. The cheapest test strips cost around 16 cents each, but others are $2 apiece or more.
What’s in the kit?
Most glucometers come with lancelets, which are needed to obtain the blood sample used to test for blood glucose. However, sometimes you have to buy the lancelets separately. Some lancelets can be used multiple times, but some types can only be used once. Most glucometer kits contain at least a few testing strips, but some come with more than others.
The good news about glucometers is that they are all fairly inexpensive. Portable glucometers tend to be the most budget-friendly option. Prices start at around $20.
The next step up are glucometers that are equipped with special features, like a voice narrated interface or enhanced accuracy. Expect to pay around $30 for a glucometer with improved functionality.
The most expensive type of glucometer you can buy is the kind that works with your smartphone. Smart glucometers cost about $40.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What are testing strips?
A: Testing strips are disposable material used for testing blood. Available testing strip types include paper, plastic and cartridge-style. Electrochemical test strips are the most common type today. They use enzymes to convert glucose into electrical currents.
Q: Some blood glucose meters can measure both blood glucose and ketones. What are ketones?
A: Blood glucose meters that can test for ketones are useful to people who are on ketogenic diets. Ketogenic dieters reduce their carbohydrate intake to force their bodies to rely on ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates. Blood meters that can detect ketones help them identify when they’ve made the transition. Unless you are on a ketogenic diet, you probably won’t have much use for this feature.
Q: Do bloodless glucometers really work?
A: Though blood testing is currently the standard when it comes to testing blood sugar levels, there are some devices that don’t require you to prick yourself with a lancelet. Before you invest in a bloodless glucose meter, you should know that this new technology is still in its early stages. The FDA approved the first bloodless glucose meter just two years ago.
Q: Some glucometer manufacturers advertise that their devices support data flagging. What does that mean?
A: Some blood glucose meters let you attach notes to your readings. You can indicate when you last ate before you tested yourself, for example. Annotation features are sometimes described as flagging or data flagging.
Q: What’s the difference between an enzyme and a reagent?
A: Both terms mean the same thing. The chemical mixture used to test for blood glucose is often referred to as a reagent or enzyme.
Q: What does BM mean?
A: In the United Kingdom, Boehringer Mannheim was once one of the leading manufacturers of blood sugar testing kits. Even though the company is now part of the Swiss healthcare company Roche, British nurses and other health care professionals often say that they are “taking a BM” when testing a patient’s blood sugar.
Tips and tricks
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before you take a blood sample.
- Don’t use alcohol wipes. Alcohol can diffuse the blood sample and make your blood sugar reading seem lower than it actually is.
- Don’t squeeze. Squeezing blood from your fingertip can also skew the results because the fluids under your skin can dilute the sample.
- Brace yourself beforehand. A good practice is to rest your finger against a stationary surface before you prick it with your lancelet.