If you have diabetes of either type, then you know the importance of keeping a close eye on your blood sugar. This means you need something which is accurate and easy to use in order to keep your eye on things, and it’s vital to your health that you make the right decision in this regard. Modern glucose meters actually have a wide range of different varieties of data tracking and other features which can come in handy, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.
Our personal favorite? The Care Touch Diabetes Testing Kit which comes with the complete kit, including lancets and a 100 count of strips for a moderate cost. It’s also remarkably easy to use.
It’s also a bit expensive, and it’s kind of up in the air whether or not you’ll be covered by insurance if you need the additional support. We took a long, hard look and crunched the numbers to bring you five of the best so you may as well give them all a good looking over while you’re on the hunt for the best one for your lifestyle.
Overall, this kit includes everything you need as long as you don’t mind doing some of the recording yourself. As an added bonus, the strips only run about $0.20 a piece as of the time of this writing.
Top 5 Glucose Meters
|Care Touch Diabetes||No||100||Check Price|
|Contour NEXT Blood Sugar||No||50||Check Price|
|iHealth Smart Wireless Gluco||Yes||50||Check Price|
|Precision Xtra Abott Diabetic||No||10||Check Price|
|Bayer CONTOUR NEXT ONE||No||0||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Glucose Meter
Care Touch Diabetes Testing Kit
While it’s not smart, this kit is remarkably cheap and the strips are easy to get ahold of in the majority of situations. It has a hygienic method of ejecting the strip as well, saving you the trouble of having to handle soiled strips when you remove them.
This kit comes complete with everything you need, and the 100 count of strips is a great place to start even if you don’t have the money to order more strips while you’re getting your first glucose meter.
Despite the lack of smart capabilities, it definitely has some advantages. It holds up to 400 readings which you can easily review and present to your doctor during your visits to keep track of how things are going. You’ll have to do some of your record keeping on your own though.
This one passes modern FDA testing, meaning that it’s within 15% of true 95% of the time, although it seems to perform much higher. The display is also big enough that even those with impaired vision can easily read it.
Pros and Cons
- Comes with everything you need
- Incredibly easy to use
- Cheap and available strips
- Stores 400 readings
- No smart connectivity
- Included lancet is a bit inconvenient
2. Runner Up for Best Glucose Meter
Contour NEXT Blood Sugar Testing Kit
If you’re willing to spend a little bit more, then you may want to take a look at this kit. It’s fast, easy to use, and a bit more advanced than the Care Touch but we’re not sure if the higher cost is justified for the average diabetic.
It delivers incredibly fast results as well, the readings come in under five seconds. It stores up to 480 readings and also gives you averages for the last week, two weeks, and full month. All of this adds up to giving you a really good record of what’s going on with your glucose levels.
The strips are a little bit more advanced as well. If you mistakenly apply too little blood the machine will beep twice and then you’ll have thirty seconds to apply more blood to the strip and still get an accurate reading.
It also has alarms to let you know when to check, making it ideal for those who are getting up there in years or are just forgetful by nature.
We don’t know if the higher cost is justified, but this is a great meter for those who don’t necessarily need smart capabilities. It’s just about the next best thing to a true smart glucose meter.
Pros and Cons
- Can re-test with the same strip
- Easy to use
- Large, easy to read display
- Additional strips come out to roughly $.25 per
- Not a smart glucose meter
- Lancets are a bit subpar
3. Best Smart Glucose Meter
iHealth Smart Wireless Gluco Monitoring System
If you’ve been looking for a smart meter, then you’re in luck. This is one of the best on the market and it’s also remarkably cheap for what it is. It syncs with your phone via Bluetooth and allows you to record as much data as you need while you’re working with your blood sugar.
The test strips are also fairly cheap, making this an even more attractive option. Unfortunately, like most of these monitoring systems it seems to have some trouble syncing up properly but we found that once the phone had it the app was easy to use.
It can also sync with an app on the Apple Watch which adds an extra level of usefulness for those who have one of those gadgets.
Some people had issues with the strips, unfortunately, although none of our reviewers seemed to have issues. The strips themselves are pretty cheap as well, although a little bit harder to find than many on the market.
While the tech is still in its infancy, we can firmly recommend this as the best smart glucose meter on the market. Just be aware it may take some fiddling to get the Bluetooth properly synced.
Pros and Cons
- Smart capabilities
- Can take offline readings
- Strips are cheap
- Easy to use once synced
- Bluetooth can be finicky
- Strips can be hard to find in person
4. Most Accurate Glucose Meter
Precision Xtra Abott Diabetic Monitoring System Bundle Kit
While all of the ones we tested fell within the acceptable range laid out by the FDA, we found that this one most closely resembled lab results. It’s also really expensive, and we’re not sure if the added accuracy is actually worth it in the end.
On the other hand, you can also easily download the results to your computer and it will store up to 480 readings and average them for you. It also has an amazingly large and clear screen and can test for ketones as well as blood glucose.
We don’t feel that the extra cost is worth it for the average person, but if you insist on having the most accurate reading possible you may want to give this one a shot. Just keep in mind that the strips are also rather expensive and come in fairly small packs.
For those who think the FDA regulations aren’t tight enough, the Precision Xtra kit will give you the best readings we found anywhere. It’s also quite costly, so the choice is yours.
Pros and Cons
- Super accurate
- Can test ketones as well
- Comes with everything you need
- Results can be uploaded to the computer
- Very high cost
- Strips are expensive and not easily available
5. Best Budget Glucose Meter
Bayer CONTOUR NEXT ONE Bluetooth Glucose Meter
This is actually a great option for those on a tight budget, as long as you remember to pick up the additional tools you’ll need to use it. Some of our reviewers liked this quite a bit, those who’ve been with the condition for quite awhile generally already have a favored form of lancet and the strips for these are remarkably easy to find as well as cheap.
This one has a sixty second window for a second application of blood as well.
The main problem here is that you’ll have to pick up everything else you need, making it best for those who already have the majority of their kits put together since it comes with no strips, lancets, or other necessary components of a glucose monitoring kit.
Thankfully, all of these are easily obtained, and the cost remains quite reasonable due to the low pricing of the strips associated with this device.
If you’re looking to build a kit from scratch, or just want to upgrade to Bluetooth connectivity then you’ll be pleased with this. Those completely new may want to invest in a complete kit however.
Pros and Cons
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Excellent accuracy
- Quite cheap monitor
- Smart light lets you know if your levels are off
- Only includes the monitor
- App is still problem prone
What You Need in a Glucose Meter
Glucose meters are a vital part of the kit of anyone with diabetes. They’re most often in usage multiple times per day and finding the right one can make all the difference.
If you’ve been using the same old model since before the internet of things came about, you might be surprised to know that there are actually models which can help you keep track of blood sugar fluctations over the course of a full day as well.
There are quite a few variables in glucose meters that you’ll need to keep an eye on in order to make sure that you’re covered, and it’s important that you evaluate each in order to get only the best results in the long run.
This is the biggest factor in picking a glucose meter. Just a bit off and the results can be disastrous for those with serious cases of diabetes. Either way, if a meter isn’t super accurate… we didn’t include it because there’s no point in risking someone’s health for a couple of nifty features.
Test results can be considered clinically accurate as long as they’re within 20%. Modern FDA requirements actually require things to be within 15% in order to get approval. Since this is a relatively recent regulation, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got a newer model.
Control solutions exist so you can make sure that you’ve got an accurate meter, but many diabetics take their meters in with them to the doctor’s for a bit of extra assurance.
Any modern meter should be capable of avoiding any serious disasters, which is why you may want to upgrade if your meter is more than a few years old.
Whether or not your insurance covers your meter and test strips can be a big deal if you’re short on cash.
The problem is that it’s hard to recommend something here, you’ll have to do the footwork on your own for the best results. Each policy and company operates a little bit differently and that can cause some serious problems in the long run.
Checking with your insurance provider before you commit to a purchase is probably the best way to do things.
Being able to manage the data from your glucose meter quickly and easily is one of the main advantages of the newer models. The more data available to you about your blood glucose levels, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
The best of these are smart glucose meters which will upload the information to an app as you take your readings automatically. This allows you to ensure that you have accurate data over a prolonged period which your doctor can use to help you manage your condition.
Connectivity is still an issue in a lot of meters however.
Even using a notepad app on your phone can greatly increase the ease with which you keep a record of data.
If your vision isn’t the best, then you’ll want to make sure that you have an easy-to-read screen on the meter. Being able to get a quick and accurate reading is for the best, especially since spikes in glucose can cause a lot of issues.
Having your meter and having test strips on hand are two different things, and it can be a real pain with some models to ensure you always have the strips you need. Some strips can only be found online, which can make for a serious issue if you run out an inopportune time.
We’ll discuss some methods to get around that in a bit.
For now though, you may want to make sure that you are able to get the strips somewhere near to your home rather than having to exclusively order them and then wait for them to arrive. It’s the best way to ensure that you’re able to get readings whenever you might need to.
The price of the test strips is also something you’ll need to be aware of. Test strips can vary widely in the per-strip price unfortunately, and since you have a chronic condition and probably plan on using the same meter for quite some time it’s important to know what the long term cost implications are going to be.
The lancets which come with your meter are pretty important. Not so much because of the pain level when you’re taking a reading, but instead because some are easier to load than others.
Easier and more convenient is better, so if all other factors are equal it’s a good thing to take a close look at. You can always use a lancet you’re more comfortable with if you don’t like the one which comes with your meter of course.
Getting a Backup Glucose Meter
Even if you already have a good glucose monitor, you may want to consider picking up a cheaper unit as a backup.
Make sure it uses a different type of test strips, this way you can use it if you run out of the strips for your primary meter rather than having both run out at the same time which really won’t do you any good.
Another good reason to ensure you have a backup is in case your main unit comes out of calibration. If you’re feeling fine but getting a reading that tells you that you should be in a diabetic coma, you may want to get a second opinion before you panic.
And, of course, there’s always the chance that your primary meter can fail entirely and you’ll be able to keep testing while you wait for a replacement to arrive.
Frequency of Testing
Test strips get expensive, often outstripping the cost of a meter each and every month. This means that some people try to save themselves some money by testing less frequently.
That’s a terrible idea.
Instead, you should always follow your doctor’s recommendations. By doing so you’re not only less likely to have something creep up on you, you’re also giving your doctor the data they need to ensure that you get the best care possible.
Those with type 1 diabetes are particularly prone to heavier fluctuations and need to test multiple times daily. In addition to the number of tests your doctor recommends, you’ll want to make sure that you also test during any of the following situations:
- Before driving, and every 2 hours during longer drives
- Before exercising, during your session, and immediately afterwards
- Test more frequently if you’re sick
- If you’re experiencing more hypoglycemic episodes than normal
- If you’re not good at spotting hypo systems then test more frequently
- During high-risk activities
By doing so you’re more likely to be able to spot problems before they happen.
Best Practices for Logging Glucose Levels
Not everyone chooses a smart glucose meter, and that’s fine.
It’s important to make sure that you follow good record-keeping protocol when you’re recording information. This is helpful to both you and your doctor, and is one of the keys to effective managing of the condition for diabetics.
Include at least the following in your logs:
- Time and date of reading
- All timing of medications
- When and how long you exercised
- When and what you ate
Remember that diabetes is primarily treated by monitoring how your levels move, so the more information is recorded the better you’ll be able to understand your blood glucose levels and the more able your doctor will be to assist you.
Keeping a notebook with you at all times or logging the data in a phone app is the best way to do things if your meter doesn’t record the information you need. Paper also makes a handy backup in case something happens to your phone in between appointments.
Proper Storage and Use of Glucose Meters and Strips
Storage of your test strips is important. As we’ve noted, test strips get extremely expensive over time, and making sure that they go to the distance is important for both your wallet and your ability to take readings.
For the most part, you’ll want to store them somewhere room temperature and dry and make sure that you handle them for a minimum amount of time. You’ll also want to make sure that you close things up as soon as possible.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have extra batteries on hand for your meter at all times. If you have to use the last of them, then replace them as quickly as possible. Remember that your glucose meter can make a difference between life and death in extreme cases after all.
Most people keep all of their supplies in one spot. Insulin lasts much longer when refrigerated but the injection will be more painful if it’s cold and the medication generally lasts for at least a month at room temperature so you can keep a vial out and use it as needed.
When in Doubt…
Diabetes takes a real team to manage. There’s your own data that must be managed, your team of doctors, and even family members who can be there in an emergency. We cannot emphasize enough that you need to check every step of your care with your doctor, including choosing a glucose meter.
Hopefully you’ll already have things well in hand by the time you read this article, but if you’ve just been diagnosed then it may be time to read through our sources at the bottom. Don’t feel self-concipous about asking your doctor questions either: diabetes is a serious condition and managing it is going to be a life long task.
Thankfully, with modern technology treatment is becoming easier and modern glucose meters make record keeping easier than it ever has been in the past.
Diabetes is a serious condition and a glucose meter is a serious purchase. You need to make sure that you have an accurate reader, and on top of that most people will have to grapple with their insurance companies and the over-time costs of their strips.
You don’t need to panic though, instead just take a couple of deep breaths and make sure you do your level best in order to ensure that your condition is in control in the long term. Pick the meter which is right for you and you’ll have a valuable ally by your side.
And always consult with a physician before making a final decision.