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Product Comparison: Handheld Monitors

A blood glucose monitor (BGM) is a device for measuring the approximate concentration of glucose in the blood. A small drop of blood, obtained by pricking the skin with a lancet, is placed on a disposable test strip which the monitor reads and uses to calculate the blood glucose level. The monitor then displays the level in mg/dl or mmol/l.


  • Sample Size - The volume of a blood sample required by different monitors varies from 0.3 to 10 µL. A smaller blood sample requirement may mean less pain since a smaller gauge needle can be used.

  • Test sites - Pricking the fingertips can often be painful. Many monitors allow for "alternate site testing" to enable users to draw a small volume of blood from the forearm, leg, or another area less sensitive. The more sites your monitor can use, the more convenient and less painful testing can be for you.

  • Meter Size - The average size of a monitor is approximately the size of the palm of the hand, although some are smaller or larger. Smaller monitors allow for testing to be a convenient, discreet part of your daily routine. Larger monitors are useful if you have trouble seeing the screen or difficulty picking up or holding small items. If you are always on the go, a meter that is small in size might be a good choice. Talk to your doctor or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) about what size meter is best for you.

  • Test times - Monitors can read a test strip in 3 to 60 seconds depending on the model. The faster the monitor, the less time you have to spend waiting for your results.

  • Coding - Coding enables the glucose meter to be calibrated to each batch of test strips, ensuring accurate readings. Depending on the type of model, the code can be found on the test strip vial or on a chip. Miscoded monitors may result in overdoses or under-doses of insulin. Properly coding glucose meters is a crucial part of managing diabetes. For more convenience some monitors do not require coding.

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