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What is a blood glucose meter for diabetes?

A blood glucose meter is a tool that helps people manage diabetes. The blood glucose level should not be too high or too low, and the blood glucose meter measures how much glucose is in the blood. The meter shows a green light when glucose is in the proper range, a red light when glucose is too low and a yellow light when glucose is too high. These signals help people understand blood glucose readings.

Some meters also have an app that can be downloaded to a smartphone. This means people can view all of their tests on their phone, and can share these readings with their doctor or nurse.

A blood glucose meter is a handheld instrument that tests the level of glucose in the blood. A drop of blood (obtained by pricking a finger or other site) is placed on a small strip that is read by the meter. The meter calculates and displays the blood glucose level.

There are many meters to choose from. Some meters are made for those with poor eyesight. Others come with memory so you can store your results in the meter itself. The American Diabetes Association does not endorse any products or recommend one meter over another. If you plan to buy a meter, here are some questions to think about:

  • What meter does your doctor or diabetes educator suggest? They may have meters that they use often and know best.
  • What will it cost? Some insurance companies will only pay for a certain meter. Call your insurance company before you purchase a meter and ask how to get a meter and supplies. If your insurance company does not pay for blood glucose checking supplies, rebates are often available toward the purchase of your meter. You still have to consider the cost of the matching strips and lancets. Shop around.
  • How easy is the meter to use? Methods vary. Some have fewer steps than others.
  • How simple is the meter to maintain? Is it easy to clean? How is the meter calibrated (set correctly for the batch of strips you are using)?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.