Approximately 21 million Americans have diabetes, but only half of them have been diagnosed with the disease. Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or can't properly use the insulin it produces (type 2 diabetes).

Checking blood glucose levels at home with your own glucose monitor is the first way to know if your blood glucose readings are in the target range. For more than 20 years, blood glucose monitors have helped people monitor and control their diabetes.

People with diabetes must routinely check the blood glucose level in their blood with a glucose monitor. Those who use insulin should generally check at least three or more times a day. Although urine testing is important for checking things like ketones, urine testing for glucose is no longer considered to be a reliable method for monitoring. Glucose monitors are your best choice for the best diabetes care. To help you in your search to find the best glucose monitor for you, you should conside these things:


Your health insurance provider will often cover the cost of a glucose monitor. Be sure to check with them. Ask whether supplies will be covered by insurance, too. Specifically, you should also check with your insurance company about the strips your glucose monitor will use. Some insurers will only pay for certain strips. If the strips are not covered, you'll need to assess whether the costs associated with a given glucose monitor are prohibitive.

Ease of use

Talk to other users, find out what they like and don't like about certain models. Some glucose monitors require a smaller drop of blood than others. Some require fewer steps to operate, and some take less time than others. Inform your doctor which glucose monitor you intend to purchase as he may not either recommend it or not be familiar with it. If you are unsure, practically all glucose monitor manufacturers have toll-free numbers for customer questions.


Over time, accuracy can decrease. If you have a glucose monitor, bring it to your next doctor's visit and test it while you're having blood drawn. The two readings should be taken within a minute or two of each other. Then compare the results. Your reading should correspond closely (within 15%) to the lab readings. A rule of thumb is to test the glucose monitor accuracy at least once a month or according to the manufacturer's instructions or anytime you suspect a problem.


Today's glucose monitors provide fast results, usually in a minute or less. Some of the newer glucose monitors even give blood glucose results in five seconds. So this probably isn't going to be a major issue in your buying decision. If it is, though, compare the speeds of different monitors.

Test area

Check with your doctor about whether to use a finger stick method or a reading from an alternative test site like a forearm, which has been considered as a less painful means of testing blood glucose than traditional fingerstick methods. Studies have shown good correlation between finger and forearm blood glucose levels when the forearm is rubbed or tapped before blood is taken.

Record results

Keep a written log of blood glucose test results, even if your glucose monitor has a memory. Remember to take your logbook to each appointment with your doctor. Also, keep a written log of blood glucose test results because record keeping is almost as important as blood glucose monitoring itself. Be sure to also record other important factors such as eating, activity, and timing.


Your decision to buy a blood glucose monitor is a good one, especially if you take the time to do adequate research. However, the determination to use one regularly is even more important than the purchase itself. Take the time to find the glucose monitor that best meets your needs, one that you'll put to regular use and that fits you budget.