Our resident pharmacist looks at the best blood glucose monitors for type 2 diabetes.
By Rita Ghelani
Concerned about monitoring your blood glucose levels? Our resident pharmacist Rita Ghelani looks at home blood glucose monitors for people with type 2 diabetes, so you can improve your diabetes control and gain a better understanding of the condition.
Monitoring your blood glucose levels
Self-monitoring of glucose levels for people with type 2 diabetes is no longer recommended or supported in the NHS, unless a doctor states an acceptable reason or benefit for doing so. For this reason, test strips for blood glucose monitors are no longer routinely provided on NHS prescriptions.
There is evidence to suggest self-monitoring of blood glucose for type 2 diabetes can have positive effects.
However, there is evidence to suggest that using structured self-monitoring of blood glucose for type 2 diabetes can have positive effects, such as improving diabetes control and giving a better understanding of their condition.
While blood glucose monitoring is no longer routinely provided by the NHS, if have you been newly diagnosed or you’re worried about your blood glucose levels, it may be beneficial for you to consider testing your blood glucose at home.
Benefits of blood glucose monitoring
In the long term, self-monitoring of blood glucose levels can help lower the levels of HbA1c known as glycated haemoglobin – when there is too much sugar (glucose) in the body it sticks to your red blood cells that contain haemoglobin, this is called glycated haemoglobin or HbA1c.
A high HbA1c level means you have too much sugar in your blood and are more likely to develop diabetes complications, such as serious problems with eyes and circulation.
HbA1c levels are usually checked your doctor every three months, this gives a good picture of the average levels of blood sugar levels over the past three months. Red blood cells are active for 2-3 months, so repeating the HbA1c test every three months is recommended initially, once your levels are stable this can be increased to every six months.
How can I test my blood glucose levels?
If you are a type 2 diabetic and want to start self-monitoring your blood sugar levels, you should consult your doctor or diabetic nurse first.
Having a systemic and structured method for testing blood glucose levels is the most effective and can provide meaningful information.
A systemic and structured method for testing blood glucose levels is the most effective.
Taking random or too frequent blood tests can be of no value, it can lead to having a sore finger after pricking the finger for a blood sample, as well as providing information that may be overwhelming. Ask your diabetic nurse for guidelines as to how often you should test and when.
Blood glucose monitors are available to buy from pharmacies or can be provided by your diabetic clinic. We’ve rounded up the following at-home testing kits for you to consider:
Choosing the right blood glucose monitor
When selecting a blood glucose monitor you should consider the following:
Ease of use and functions: some monitors are easier to use than others. You should consider getting one with a memory, so you can share the information with your diabetic nurse or doctor.
Availability of test strips: all monitors come with a small supply of test strips, but you will have to buy more test strips. These can be expensive and may not be available on prescription.
Cost: expensive monitors are not necessarily the best ones. Also, you could get one free from the diabetic clinic if your diabetic nurse or doctor thinks it’s necessary for you to self-monitor your blood sugar levels.
Ease of carrying around: a pocket-sized one may be useful if you are having to check during the day at work.