Diabetic Test Strips And Glucose Monitors

Are you diabetic and looking for a new way to monitor your glucose? Explore the glucose monitoring options on the market today.

The human body uses food as a source of energy. Diabetes is a medical condition that prevents that food from being processed properly. That is because it either prevents proper production of a substance called insulin or the insulin is not used efficiently once it is produced. As of 2019, approximately 11.3 percent of Americans were diabetic. Currently, diabetes has no cure. However, treatment and monitoring systems are available, and those technologies are constantly advancing.

If you have diabetes, it is important for you to monitor your glucose, or blood sugar, levels frequently. Extreme changes in your glucose levels can cause dangerous problems, such as dizziness and fainting. In severe cases, diabetic shock can occur and is potentially life threatening. There are many glucose monitors and diabetic testing strips available to help you regulate your glucose levels. It is important to find a testing method that is comfortable and convenient for you. Below is information on several glucose monitor and test strip options to help you choose.

What Are Glucose Monitors and What Features Do They Offer?

Glucose monitors are medical devices designed for diabetic patients. They help patients test their blood sugar levels. Glucose monitors are important because they allow patients to know when their blood glucose levels are dangerously low or dangerously high. Patients must then take actions to regulate their blood sugar levels, accordingly. For example, patients often use insulin injections to normalize their blood sugar levels, as needed.

Today, there are two primary categories of glucose monitors available. Traditional monitors are machines that analyze blood to determine glucose levels. They require patients to prick their skin, usually on their fingers. Then the blood produced is tested on the spot. Many traditional glucose monitors are portable to allow patients to test anywhere, regardless of timing or circumstances. Such monitors all work in a similar fashion, but they do vary in the additional features they offer. Some of those extra features are quite beneficial for elderly patients or those with physical impairments. They include:

  • Backlit Screens

  • Large Print Displays

  • Audio Capabilities

  • Various Forms of Data Storage for Trend Tracking

The other primary category of glucose monitor is the continuous glucose monitor (CGM). CGMs use modern technology to constantly check glucose levels without the need for finger pricking. Instead, sensors are inserted under the skin of patients. Those sensors record data every few minutes, which patients can easily access and review. The use of CGMs is steadily increasing among diabetic patients. However, traditional monitoring devices are still the most popular.

What Are Diabetic Test Strips?

Diabetic test strips are the materials that traditional diabetes monitoring devices use to check glucose levels. Blood is applied to those testing strips. Then chemical reactions take place. Those reactions allow glucose monitoring devices to determine the glucose levels of their users. Then the monitors display those glucose levels for the users.

Diabetic test strips vary in terms of accuracy. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates those produced in the United States. By FDA law, test strips must display results within 15 percent of lab testing results 95 percent of the time to gain FDA approval. However, most diabetic testing strips are designed to work in specific monitoring devices. When patients use the wrong test strips for their devices, accuracy often decreases significantly.

What Types of Diabetes Test Strips Are Available?

There are two main types of diabetes test strips available. One type tests blood sugar levels. The other tests ketone levels. Ketones are produced when cells do not receive enough glucose. Therefore, diabetic patients can determine if their glucose levels are out of the normal range with a ketone test. Certain glucose monitoring devices are calibrated to allow optional ketone testing. However, specific test strips for ketone testing are required.

Diabetic test strips also come in different styles. Some are easier to use or hold than others. Since patients must  insert testing strips into monitoring devices, it is important for them to select monitoring devices with test strips they can easily handle. Certain testing devices and strips are larger to accommodate patients who have difficulty with vision or fine motor skills.

What Are Some Popular Glucose Monitor Brands?

There are many home glucose monitoring devices on the market today. However, not all of them are equal in terms of forms, functions, or features. Here are some of the top options, as of 2022:

  • Care Touch has a reputation for being an excellent testing device for new diabetics. It is affordable and easy to purchase online from popular websites like Amazon. However, its testing strips are small, making it inappropriate for patients with motor skill or vision problems.

  • Dexcom G6 is one of the most popular CGM devices on the market. It comes with its own display device, but it also has smartphone compatibility.

  • Rite Aid TrueMetrix Meters are affordable traditional testing devices. The alarm functions of TrueMetrix Meters allow users to program testing reminders easily. However, test strips do not come with the device.

  • Walgreens TrueMetrix Bluetooth Blood Glucose Meters are a step up from their Rite Aid counterparts. They provide storage on up to 1,000 results and the ability for patients to receive results on their cellphones.

  • FreeStyle Libre is another CGM system. Its alarm options allow users to know immediately when glucose levels are out of the safe range.

How Much Does a Glucose Monitor Usually Cost?

A final issue to consider when selecting a glucose monitor is cost. Many traditional glucose monitors are available for as little as $15 or $20 from drugstores or pharmacies. However, you must also factor in ongoing test strip costs. The costs associated with traditional and CGM devices are also dictated heavily by your insurance coverage. In some cases, you may qualify for completely free testing supplies. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist to see if your diabetic testing supplies are covered by your insurance. If not, you can potentially find deals on traditional testing devices and strips online. However, you must shop carefully. Never purchase used testing devices or strips. Also, do not purchase testing strips made outside the U.S., since they are not subject to the same quality standards.