Any recommendations for a glucometer?
August 14, 2007 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Have any recommendations for a glucometer for an adult newly diagnosed with Type II diabetes? Cost effective, low-blood, and low-pain preferred -- but all suggestions welcome.

A friend -- an adult woman in the U.S. -- has just been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. She's on the market for a glucometer for what we're told will be twice-daily readings. Does anyone out there have favorite brands or other helpful advice?

Ideally, we'd like to find a model that has cost-effective consumables and that doesn't involve lots of pain and/or blood. So, er, if you were going to suggest a very expensive, very painful, and high-blood model, well, thanks anyway.

Bonus question: if you have favorite stores and/or sources for these supplies, we'd appreciate those suggestions, too.

posted by rdn to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "... Does anyone out there have favorite brands or other helpful advice? ..."

Regardless of any of the desirable characteristics of particular advertised testing systems that your friend is seeking, the important characteristics she must have, and perhaps assumes will be constant across all meters on the market, are accuracy and repeatability. Not all the inexpensive, low blood, arm testing meters are appropriate for all patients, particularly new ones. Many diabetes educators will still want your friend to start off with a standard meter they recommend, and to use finger pricking, until they see her blood sugar levels well under control on whatever management regimen they suggest. So, that's the important thing - to use meters, testing supplies, methods and schedules that have predictable, accurate clinical results, regardless of whatever other medical issues, medications, and regimens she has.

I'd suggest she initially go with the recommendations of whoever is conducting her diabetes education, and I'd make sure to take along her meter and testing supplies to training and followup sessions and physician visits over the first few months, to directly compare how her results track those of clinicians. If she can use the kinds of meters that allow arm testing, with very small samples, she'll be advised of that at the appropriate time. But that has a lot to do with her particular blood chemistry, and with personal factors including her skin characteristics, circulatory health, and general state of health/activity. If she's very overweight, or has circulatory health or rapid clotting issues, for example, arm testing may not be appropriate.

For the present, getting on top of the management of her blood sugar, by whatever the best technology is recommended for her needs, should be her #1 goal.
posted by paulsc at 8:46 PM on August 14, 2007

Some insurance companies will only cover test strips for specific models.

I wouldn't cheap out on my meter purchases, because the complications of diabetes are so expensive. That said, she might be able to get away with a cheaper meter if she is not on any meds that can cause hypoglycemia. That is if she is just checking for highs rather than lows accuracy is not as critical. The True Track meter (often rebranded by pharmacies as the house brand) seems to have the cheapest strips.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:13 AM on August 15, 2007

I have Type I, and my health insurance does not cover any testing materials. So, I use the Wal-mart brand meter and test strips. There is nothing flashy about this meter, but it seems accurate and repeated measurements are quite close. Also, the meter and the strips (which I pay for out of pocket) are affordable.

Best of luck.
posted by Womanscientist at 3:41 AM on August 15, 2007

IANADiabetic and IANADoctor, but I had a few of them tested out on myself while I was working in a lab.

Onetouch (Lifescan) and Freestyle (Abbott) were both extremely accurate and relatively painless. Onetouch is also very compact. Neither is cheap, however. I think that cheap trades off against the other qualities that you want.

The more expensive models come with all kinds of bells and whistles to keep track of your readings, activities, meals, etc. It's nothing that you couldn't do with a spreadsheet, but I think that it would be nice to have on the go if you're going to be aggressive about it.

Remember that the strips is where they get you, so check those prices more than the meter. If you're not bolusing insulin/checking many times per day but just checking a general range once or twice a day, then the expensive ones made for type 1 people might be overkill.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:30 AM on August 15, 2007

Best answer: I'm type 1 and check about a dozen times a day, so for me high speed and low pain are key. I'm pretty happy with the OneTouch line made by Lifescan that a robot made out of meat mentioned above. I use either the Ultra or the UltraMini on my arm. This may sound like a line from an advertisement, but I would say that it's virtually pain free.

But these do not at all qualify as low cost, I don't think. Also, as others have said, arm testing may not be recommended for your friend.
posted by chinston at 6:19 AM on August 15, 2007

Best answer: I just started using a Freestyle Flash. It's easy enough, and relatively painless. The lancing device is adjustable, which helps. Also, you're supposed to be able to use alternate test sites but I just stick to the thumb or pinkie on my nondominant hand.

I ordered it and a round of supplies (100 test strips and 100 lancets) for about $72 from American Diabetes Wholesale.

This is just like buying disposable razor blades or ink cartridges. The device is generally inexpensive... where they get you is on the consumables. That's where most of your research should focus.
posted by friezer at 6:35 AM on August 15, 2007

My mom is diabetic, but hers gradually got more aggravated/less controlled over time. So while there may be 2x a day testing now, you may want to consider what it'll be like if management of the disease changes, in terms of pain, portability, etc.

She uses the Freestyle line of products. She mostly likes them, but she's not technologically savvy and so never uses the function to save results in the machine. So that function may not be worth paying for either. YMMV.

Most important thing when testing: always keep the log with the monitor. My mom has this terrible habit of writing the number on a napkin, etc, and then losing it and having to start over.
posted by RobotHeart at 7:04 AM on August 15, 2007

I use One-Touch to monitor my pre-diabetic blood sugar. As others have said, it isn't the cheapest option, but it is very easy to use, and requires a relatively small blood sample.

I would say don't skimp on this. Your friend's health and comfort will depend upon the quality of the monitor. Taking readings is annoying enough without worrying about cheap equipment.
posted by frykitty at 9:11 AM on August 15, 2007

I love my Freestyle. I used to live around the corner from the corporate headquarters of the company that developed the technology in Alameda CA and they had a big open house where they gave the monitors away. Jerry Mathers was the big celeb at the release party, and what the Beaver uses is good enough for me.

Its recommended test location in on the forearm, a very small amount of blood, practically painless. It's true about expensive strips, though it seems like that's true no matter what tester you choose. Insurance should mitigate some of that cost, even Medicare.
posted by DandyRandy at 9:51 AM on August 15, 2007

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