Diabetes Education

Meters & Test Strips

Diabetes affects millions Americans. Statistically, the growth of diabetes is at near epidemic proportions. Studies show that over six percent of America's population is estimated to be affected by the disease. Healthcare authorities agree that these circumstances demand urgent attention, yet all are unclear on the exact reason for the increase.

Treatment Required

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that requires constant management. Many people do not know they have diabetes until their symptoms become severe. Without proper treatment and management you can suffer from complications that are related to diabetes. With proper care, however, you can lead a normal and fulfilled life. By taking care of yourself in the early stages, you may prevent more serious health issues later. Self-monitoring devices make it easier for people with diabetes to monitor and manage their diabetes. You can decide if this is something that will suit your personal needs.

A person with diabetes does not have the ability to utilize the glucose in their food for energy. Therefore, it builds up in their bloodstream where it can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. After being diagnosed with diabetes you will have to take personal responsibility for your care and management with the counsel of your healthcare provider.

Diabetes Glucose Meters

Self-monitoring blood glucose is now easier and more accurate than ever with the improved technology of blood glucose meters. Glucose meters are battery operated devices that measure blood glucose levels. They work by reading small blood sample from a disposable test strip. The blood glucose test strip is placed inside the meter and the meter measures the amount of glucose in your blood.

Choosing A Diabetes Meter

There are several factors to consider when choosing a blood glucose meter. The first thing you want to do is find a meter that is reliable and trustworthy of managing your blood glucose levels. This is a personal decision based on your lifestyle needs at home, school, work, or play.. Your Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE) or other healthcare provider can inform you of how often your blood glucose levels need to be tested.

Meters will vary in many ways. When choosing a meter you will want to consider the following:

  • The amount of blood needed for testing.
  • The speed of testing.
  • The size of the meter.
  • The meter´s ability to store test results in memory.
  • The cost of the meter and supplies.

Diabetes Meter Brand Comparison

Next you will want to compare brands. Below is a list of brands and information to assist you in your decision.

Abbott Diabetes Care - Optium

The Optium is designed not to begin testing until there is enough blood on the test strip. This reduces errors and test strip waste. The Optium allows you to test from your forearm or your fingertip. It features the TrueMeasure™ test strip technology that makes testing more accurate. This advanced technology reduces the effects of substances such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and vitamin C to provide a glucose specific test result. The Optium requires a blood sample size of 0.6 micro liters and provides a test result in five seconds. It features an easy to read display, 450 test result memory with weekly and monthly averaging, and downloads to a data management program on your personal computer.

Abbott Diabetes Care - Precision Xtra

The Precision Xtra was designed to make advanced diabetes management simple. It also features the benefits of the TrueMeasure™ test strip technology. The Precision Xtra is a small meter that requires a blood sample size of 0.6 micro liters. Test results are produced in five seconds. The Precision Xtra stores 450 test results, has the capability of testing blood ketone, and is downloadable to your personal computer.

Abbott Diabetes Care - FreeStyle Freedom

The FreeStyle Freedom is ideal for people who are on the go. It allows for alternate site testing on your forearm, upper arm, hand, and thigh. The FreeStyle Freedom test strip requires the smallest blood sample in the world of 0.3 micro liters. It will produce a test result in five seconds. The FreeStyle Freedom has four programmable patient reminder alarms, stores 250 test results with a 14-day result average, and downloads on your personal computer.

Abbott Diabetes Care - FreeStyle Lite

The FreeStyle Freedom features alternative site testing on your fingertip, hand, upper arm, forearm, calf, or thigh. It has a large numeric display, more discreet, with both backlight and portlight, but smaller to hold.  It uses the code-free strips that are compatible with the FreeStyle Freedom Lite meter.   The freestyle Freedom requires a blood sample of 0.3 micro liters and produces results in five seconds. It also has four programmable patient reminder alarms, stores 250 test results with a 14-day result average, and downloads on your personal computer.

Abbott Diabetes Care - FreeStyle Freedom Lite

The FreeStyle Freedom Lite features alternate site testing on your fingertip, hand, upper arm, forearm, calf, or thigh, and no strip coding is necessary! See your accurate glucose test results within 5-seconds on the large easy to read numeric display that is larger and very comfortable to hold. FreeStyle Freedom Lite uses the code-free strips that are compatible with the FreeStyle Lite meter.  It requires 0.3 micro liters,  and produces results in five seconds. It also has four programmable patient reminder alarms, stores 400 test results, provides results in 7, 14 and 30 day.

Accu-Chek Active

The Active requires a blood sample size of 1 micro liter and provides test results in five seconds. The Accu-Chek Active test strips are touchable and easy to use. It features alternate site testing, stores 200 test results, and is downloadable to your personal computer.

Accu-Chek Advantage

The Advantage requires a blood sample size of 4 micro liters and provides test results in twenty-six seconds. The Comfort Curve test strips have a unique curve to fit your finger for easier blood application. It stores 450 test results and is downloadable to your personal computer.

Accu-Chek Aviva

The Aviva uses the multiclix lancing device and a 6-test strip cartridge that requires a blood sample size of 0.6 micro liters and provides test results in five seconds. It features alternate site testing, stores 500 test results, and is downloadable to your personal computer.

Accu-Check - Compact

The Compact provides test results in seven seconds. The Compact test strips requires a blood sample size of 1.5 micro liters. It features alternate site testing, stores 100 test results, and is downloadable to your personal computer. The Compact Test Strip Drum holds 17 test strips.

Ascensia Breeze 2

The Breeze 2 features an easy load AUTODISC that holds ten test strips. It does not carry individual test strips and does not requiring any coding at all.  It also allows for alternate site testing.  It  can store up to 420 tests and 7, 14, or 30 day averages.

Ascensia Contour

The Contour adjusts automatically for variables that can affect accuracy. The Contour test strips are convenient and easy to use. It requires a blood sample size of 0.6 micro liters and produces test results in 15 seconds. The Contour stores 240 test results and is downloadable to your personal computer. It offers alternate site testing on the finger, palm, forearm, thigh, or abdomen.

Advocate

This meter comes in three different models, a talking, an autocode talking, and also a talking with built in blood pressure monitor.  It requires a tiny sample size of 0.7 microliters.  Alternate site testing.  You have your results in only 7 seconds on a large screen for easier visibility.  Allows for uploading results onto a computer.

Nova Max

The Nova Max Blood Glucose Monitoring System requires a blood sample of 0.3 micro liters and produces results in five seconds. Both the BD test strips or Nova Max Testing Strips are designed specifically for this monitoring device. It will store 400 test results and offers alternate site testing for added comfort.

Prestige IQ Diabetes Meter

Fast accurate results within seconds.  14 & 30 day averages.  Display that is large and easy to read.  It is compatible to upload results to the computer.

Prodigy Talking Diabetes Meter Kit

The Prodigy is an affordable talking diabetes meter. The Prodigy test strip requires a blood sample of 0.6 micro liters and produces results in six seconds. The Prodigy will store 450 test results and will download to your personal computer.  This meter also comes in an auto code talking version also, the Prodigy Auto Code Diabetes Meter.

True Track Diabetes Monitor

Requires only a 0.1 microliter blood sample.  Fast, accurate results in 10 seconds.  Alternate site testing.

Brand Name Manufacturer Name Blood Sample Amount (Microliters) Result Time Alternate Site Testing Download to PC Coding Required Memory (Number of test results)
Medisense Optium Abbott Diabetes Care 0.6 5 sec Yes Yes Yes 450
Precision Xtra Abbott Diabetes Care 0.6 5 sec Yes Yes Yes 450
FreeStyle Freedom Abbott Diabetes Care 0.3 5 sec Yes Yes Yes 250
FreeStyle Freedom Lite Abbott Diabetes Care 0.3 5 sec Yes Yes No 400
FreeStyle Lite Abbott Diabetes Care 0.3 5 sec Yes Yes No 400
Accu-Check Active Roche Diagnostics 1 5 sec Yes Yes Yes 200
Accu-Chek Advantage Roche Diagnostics 4 26 sec No Yes Yes 480
Accu-Chek Aviva Roche Diagnostics 0.6 5 sec Yes Yes Yes 500
Accu-Chek Compact Roche Diagnostics 1.5 5 sec Yes Yes No 300
Ascensia Breeze 2 Bayer Diabetes Care 1.0 5 sec Yes Yes No 420
Ascensia Contour Bayer Diabetes Care 0.6 5 sec Yes Yes No 480
Advocate Bayer Diabetes Care 0.7 7 sec Yes Yes Yes (Redicode requires no coding) 450
Nova Max Nova Biomedical 0.3 5 sec Yes Coming Soon No 400
Prestige IQ Home Diagnostics, Inc. 4.0 10 - 50 sec No Yes Yes 365
Prodigy Diagnostic Devices, Inc. 0.6 6 sec Yes Yes Yes 450
True Track Home Diagnostics, Inc. 1.0 10 sec Yes Yes Yes 365

Manufacturers of Blood Glucose Meters

Another important factor to weigh in when choosing a diabetes meter is the manufacturer. You want to buy a meter from a company that is dedicated to providing top quality products to its customers. Listed below you will find some background information on a few reputable companies that manufacture diabetes meters.

Abbott Diabetes Care

Abbott is a global health care company that has been established for over 100 years. They are also responsible for brands such as FreeStyle and Precision. Abbott is highly motivated to find new medicines, technologies, and health management techniques to improve the lifestyle of someone with diabetes. It is more than just their job it is their daily goal to help their customers live enjoyable and healthy lives.
Read more about Abbott / FreeStyle diabetes testing

Roche

Roche has been established for over 100 years and is a well-known name among consumers. They work hard to discover and develop diabetic healthcare solutions to enhance quality of life. The two units of operation at Roche are pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.

Bayer

Bayer is a well-known name among consumers and is responsible for many firsts in diabetes healthcare. In 1964, they developed the first dry reagent blood sugar test that enabled people to monitor blood sugar levels from their own home. Bayer under the former name of Miles introduced the first portable blood glucose meter. Bayer is dedicated to improve and enhance quality of life through diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. Today, it is a world leader in diabetes innovations.

Diagnostic Devices, Inc.

Diagnostic Devices is a leader in research and development of new products to improve and manage the health of patients with diabetes and other disorders.

Home Diagnostics, Inc.

Home Diagnostics, Inc. is one of the leading providers of diabetes products.  Home Diagnostics, Inc. also works closely with healthcare providers to help them more affordably monitor and manage their patients with diabetes.

Sun Coast

Diabetic Supply of Suncoast offers products that help patients monitor their blood glucose levels and blood pressure. Diabetic Supply of Suncoast's innovative talking monitors are an invaluable aid to patients with limited visibility. Loss of vision affects millions of diabetics, and if you are one of those, these unique talking monitors can help you to care for yourself independently and effectively.

Glucose Meter Training

Each glucose meter works a little differently and you need to be familiar with how it works in order to accurately read your results. First you should read the instructions included with your glucose meter. You may also want to get with your healthcare provider to see if training is available through a diabetes educator. In addition, a toll-free number is provided on the back of all meters.  There are customer service agents available for you 24 hours/7 days a week to assist you in using your monitor.

It would be a good idea to take your meter to your physician at you next scheduled check-up and test the results of your glucose meter against the physician´s lab results to ensure your meter is working properly. If problems are detected then you may need to contact the manufacturer.

An Important Side Note

It is very important that you wash and dry your hands thoroughly before and after testing. You may also choose to prep the area that will be used to draw the blood sample with alcohol. There are several factors that could impair the accuracy of your test if your hands are unclean or wet. Be sure to check instruction guide for conditions that could interfere with readings.

New Technology

One of the biggest research projects is to find the most noninvasive glucose meter. Everyone hates to have his or her finger pricked. Researchers are working on a pain free infrared spectroscopy. This device will measure the glucose levels by directing a light onto the surface of the skin.

Take Control of Your Health

The main goal for a glucose meter is that it will track your glucose levels over time, help you to recognize individual patterns to improve meal or snack choices, help you recognize emergency situations, and educate you on how to manage your blood glucose levels.

Marci Sloane, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE

Article was reviewed by Marci Sloane, a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist and certified diabetes educator. Marci graduated with a degree in Nutrition and Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University. Marci manages a Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center in South Florida and is the author of The Diet Game: Playing for Life! More about Marci Sloane

The goal of Destination Diabetes is to be a useful and credible resource for the more than 20 million children and adults who have diabetes in the U.S. and their families. Destination Diabetes provides information on a wide range of diabetes health and wellness topics. Articles are written or reviewed by diabetes advisors who have experience in diabetes education.