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Along with treatment, home glucose monitors can help you keep tabs on your diabetes and decrease your risk of complications. However, with all of the options available on the market, selecting the perfect glucose monitor can be a challenge.
To make the process easier, we rounded up the 7 best glucose monitors available. Feel free to discuss these options with your doctor before you get started.
Above all, we included glucose monitors that are reportedly the most accurate. Since home meters are designed to help you monitor your glucose in between laboratory work from your doctor’s visits, it’s important that your device provides the most accurate results possible.
While no home test will be as accurate as a lab version, getting as close to the quality of such tests can help provide peace of mind as well as better diabetes management.
Other items we looked at include:
- consistent performance
- price and overall affordability
- special features
- overall ease of use
- user experiences and reviews
We included glucose meters across a variety of features and price points. The cost of CGMs and blood glucose meters can vary widely based on their features, and your insurance coverage and location.
Best overall for new users
If you have a recent diabetes diagnosis and are looking for a glucose meter that’s both easy to use and affordable, you may consider the traditional blood glucose monitoring system from Care Touch.
The meter can read your glucose in as little as 5 seconds while also making finger strips easy to remove with an ejection system. This system, available without a prescription, provides a 14-day readings average, and you can also store up to 300 readings at a time.
What makes this system ideal for beginners is that it’s an all-in-one kit that contains everything you need to get started with monitoring your glucose numbers. It includes the meter, 100 lancets and test strips, and a lancing device. You can then buy these Care Touch accessories in the future.
Best for blood-free readings
The Libre works by wearing a sensor on your upper arm. It’s a “flash” system, which means you wave an accompanying monitor above the sensor in order to get your glucose readings. You can repeat the process as often as you’d like.
To keep the Libre system working, you have to reapply a new sensor to your arm every 14 days.
One downside to this CGM is that it can be a little confusing to keep track of their latest models that have the same names.
- The FreeStyle Libre 2, currently available in the United States, has optional alarms when your glucose numbers are out of range.
- The FreeStyle Libre 3, not yet approved for use in the United States, offers automatic alarms and regular monitoring without the need for self-scans.
Some users also report inaccurate readings as well as skin irritation from applying the sensors. However, the fact that the Libre doesn’t require finger pricking can be ideal if you measure your glucose multiple times per day.
Most accurate CGM
If you’re looking for a CGM with more reliable accuracy than the FreeStyle Libre, you may consider the Dexcom G6.
The Dexcom G6 is a sensor you wear on your abdomen that transmits information to a corresponding app you can download on your phone, tablet, or smartwatch. Users like the fact that the sensor transmits this data automatically every 5 minutes.
What sets the Dexcom G6 apart from other types of CGMs is its ability to complement other devices you might have for your diabetes management. These include insulin pumps.
One of the most common complaints is that you have to change out your sensor every 10 days versus longer wear on other CGM devices.
Longest-lasting CGM sensor
If you’re looking for a CGM that’s applied at the doctor’s office instead of at home, you may consider the Eversense CGM.
Like the FreeStyle Libre, Eversense measures interstitial fluids via a sensor applied to your upper arm. The key difference is that the sensor is implanted subcutaneously and is worn for 90 days at a time.
Once the sensor is applied, the Eversense system sends data to your smart device automatically every five minutes. It also alerts you via a vibration alarm if your blood glucose falls out of your ideal range.
Overall, users appreciate how this sensor is changed every 90 days versus 7 to 14 days like other brands. However, some have experienced sensitivity alerts when wearing the sensor in direct sunlight.
Best for detailed glucose data
If you’re looking for more detailed glucose tracking data, you may consider this CGM by Medtronic.
Like the FreeStyle Libre and Eversense, the Guardian Connect sensor is worn on your arm to measure glucose via interstitial fluids. But unlike any other CGM currently on the market, the Guardian Connect compiles time in range data, which tells you how long your glucose is in your personal ideal range on any given day.
The greatest downsides to the Guardian Connect are its age restrictions (14 and up), as well as the larger price tag you’ll pay for a system with all of these features and separately priced parts. You also need to change out your sensor every 7 days.
Best for budget
If you’re looking for an affordable traditional blood sample meter, consider Rite Aid’s TrueMetrix. This straightforward product allows you to program four reminder alarms, and the results can be processed in as quickly as 4 seconds. You can also store up to 500 test results on the device.
The TrueMetrix meter is available at Rite Aid stores and online without a prescription. Keep in mind that you will also need to purchase lancets and test strips separately, both of which Rite Aid also sells.
Best for extra features on a budget
Similar to Rite Aid’s TrueMetrix glucose meter, this version from Walgreen’s uses blood samples via a traditional finger sticking process.
What sets it apart from the original TrueMetrix is its Bluetooth capabilities to deliver results to your smartphone. It works on both Android 4.4 and iPhone 4S models and later.
Additionally, this Bluetooth version allows you to store twice as many test results: 1,000 at a time. It claims to process your results in about 4 seconds.
In addition to the cost of the meter, you will still need to buy lancets and test strips from the same brand. Walgreen’s sells the meter and accessories without a prescription.
If you’ve used a traditional glucose monitor in the past and are looking for a less painful, portable option, then a CGM may be a better option. You may consider the Libre, G6, Guardian Connect, or Eversense based on the features as well accuracy and the duration of sensor wear.
While insurance and Medicare do cover CGMs, these monitors are more expensive overall. Depending on your insurance, they may offer coverage for one type of CGM but not another. It’s important to check these details with your provider ahead of time.
If you don’t have insurance, you can check with your doctor or pharmacist for discounts on your CGM and accessories. It’s also possible to obtain coupons directly from the manufacturer to help offset the costs.
When browsing for glucose brand monitors online, you’ll notice that some versions, such as the Rite Aid TrueMetrix, are available for purchase over the counter while CGMs, such as the FreeStyle Libre or Dexcom G6, are not.
This is because you’ll need a doctor’s prescription to get a CGM system. However, you don’t need a prescription for the basic finger-stick meters we’ve included on our list. With a prescription, you may be able to buy a CGM from a medical supply store online.
If you do decide to purchase a glucose monitor or meter online, be sure you know the total costs upfront, including any test strips, extra sensors, lancets, and accessories that may be sold separately. You might also consider setting up these accessories on an auto-ship basis so you don’t run out.
What is considered the best glucose monitor for you ultimately depends on the features you’re looking for, whether you want a traditional meter or CGM, and your budget.
These seven glucose monitors offer benefits — and some drawbacks — to consider when making your ultimate selection. You can also talk about these monitors with your doctor.