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Reasons for choosing a particular blood-glucose meter are as varied as the users. Some users want it simple, some want all the bells and whistles and many want something in between—as long as the meter and strips are affordable and accurate. Not to mention fast!
Ideally, the person with diabetes should have a discussion with a diabetes educator to go over the features of the various meters and decide which is best, based on lifestyle, abilities and personal preference. In reality, however, that doesn't always happen.
"Hmmm, who gets to choose?" asks Diana Eichman of Pleasant Hill, California. "Those without insurance? My insurance company chose for me, since it's the only meter they would buy and also pay most of the strip cost."
But those without insurance also have limitations.
"I use Wal-Mart's ReliOn meter and strips due to the cost of the strips," says Pat Shermer of Rapid City, South Dakota, who has had type 1 diabetes for 40 years."I still have my Ascensia Elite, which I very much like but can no longer afford to use since losing my health insurance. The ReliOn strips are at least half the price of the Elite and almost every other glucose strip available."
Steven Santinelli of Amherst, New Hampshire, who has type 2 diabetes, uses a LifeScan OneTouch Ultra for its speed and compact size and a ReliOn for the low cost of its testing strips. He tests regularly, despite his doctor's advice to the contrary.
"I actually had some issues early on with him, because he told me I didn't need to test my blood glucose—that the A1C was enough," Santinelli said of his doctor. "Needless to say, he was very wrong, and my A1C went up after I stopped using the meters."
Vision considerations led Paul Pevec of Mooretown, Ontario, to the Precision Sof-Tact, from Abbott MediSense.
"With limited vision, I was having problems getting my blood samples placed onto the test strips of my previous meter," he reports. "In low-light conditions, my display screen was hard to read, [and] pricking my fingers so often made infections and pain a common daily experience."
The Sof-Tact works for him. Pevec adds that his doctors and diabetes educators "were very interested in me demonstrating how useful this meter was to a person with my complications."
David N. Wagner, a type 2 from Jamaica, New York, has macular degeneration and explains that "aiming a drop of blood into a little window on a strip is not easy for me." He solves his vision problems during testing by using the Accu-Chek Advantage meter.
"With the Comfort Curve strip, I just have to run the strip along my finger, and it sucks in the droplet of blood," Wagner says.
People who like simplicity also like another Accu-Chek product: the Compact.
"My doctors and I discussed what type of meter would be the best for me, and we decided [the Compact] would be a good choice because I was more likely to check my sugar using it," recalls Lisa Vise of Bethesda, Maryland. "With other meters that look more obvious, I felt kind of embarrassed to use them. But I really like this one because it resembles a cell phone and the lancing device looks like a ballpoint pen."
Vise also likes the convenience of having the strips on a drum device that fits inside the meter. Others like the Ascensia DEX2 for the same reason: the strips come in a disc that fits inside the meter instead of being stored individually in a separate container.
Ted Martin of Iselin, New Jersey, likes the DEX2 because "I can carry everything in one pocket, including refills, and run my test without attracting attention to myself. I have made tests in business meetings and on the soccer field surrounded by spectators and thousands of fans, and no one noticed. That ability alone has saved me from [severe low blood glucose] on several occasions."
Jeff Mobley of Oakland, California, likes the DEX2 for its compactness plus a more esoteric reason. "I hate to admit it," he says, "but it looks cool too!"
Another meter praised for its compactness is the OneTouch Ultra, which Rabbi Hirsch Meisels of Spring Valley, New York, describes as the "smallest meter to fit in my pocket. I currently carry with me my cell phone on one side of my belt, my insulin pump on the other, my Palm Pilot to record blood sugars and carbs, etc., my…pocket gram scale to weigh food portions for precise carb counting—let alone my wallet, pens…glucose tablets, a lancing device [and] strips with a meter. I have to make things fit!"
Meisels could, as some have discovered, switch to TheraSense's Free-Style Tracker, which combines a blood-glucose meter and a personal digital assistant (PDA).
Many meters, however, come with software and cables that allow the users to download results to their computers or, in some cases, a PDA. Other meters, such as the Accu-Chek Complete, allow users to input additional data, such as carbohydrate intake and insulin dosages, into the meter.
*The accompanying chart on pages 36 and 37 provides an overview of the features available on today's blood-glucose meters.
*The chart accompanying this article is not reproduced on this website due to cost and maintenance considerations. If you wish to obtain a copy of this chart, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Diabetes Health at 1-800-488-8468, x109.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.