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Blood glucose meters

Blood glucose meters measure the amount of glucose in the blood. They are an important part of managing your blood glucose levels. If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll probably need to check your glucose levels around six times a day.
Content last reviewed and updated: 09.08.2023

What is a blood glucose meter?

A blood glucose meter is a small device that checks the amount of glucose in your blood so that you can work out how much insulin to take or whether you need to manage a hypo or hyper.

A woman with type 1 diabetes using a blood glucose meter

What comes with a blood glucose meter?

There are three components to a blood glucose meter – the meter itself, blood test strips, and a lancet to prick your finger.

How do you use a blood glucose meter?

When you need to check your blood glucose levels, wash your hands with soap and water if you can, in order to get an accurate reading. Touching fruit for example can give you a result several mmols higher than your real measurement.

If you can’t wash your hands, wipe away the first drop of blood and use the second to perform the check.

Put a new test strip into the blood glucose meter. Then you prick the side of your fingertip with the lancet to release a small drop of blood. You put this drop (or the next drop if you’re using the second one) on the end of the test strip. The meter will then work out how much glucose is in the blood and display it on the screen.

Read more about how to get an accurate result with your blood glucose meter.

How do I get a blood glucose meter?

Blood glucose meters are a standard treatment for type 1 diabetes so you’ll be given one for free when you are diagnosed, along with your insulin pens.

What type of blood glucose meters are there?

Although they are standard treatment, there many different brands of blood glucose meters available in the UK. Most function in very similar ways, though they can have different features. There are meters with lights so that they can be used in the dark, some can be charged by USB while others use batteries. Others connect to smartphone apps such as MySugr or Rapid Calc which can calculate insulin doses for you based on your blood glucose readings.

How do you choose a blood glucose meter?

Research the different types of blood glucose meter online. Ask your Diabetes Healthcare Team about the different features that might benefit you and which meters are easily available locally. Some people like to get a new meter every now and then just for a change.

Do you still need a blood glucose meter if you’re using flash or continuous glucose meters?

Yes, you will still need to occasionally use a blood glucose meter to check the accuracy of flash or continuous glucose monitors (CGM). This is because flash and CGM measure the glucose in the fluid around your cells (called interstitial fluid) rather than the blood itself, which is what a meter measures. Flash and CGM work well, but their readings do sometimes need to be double-checked with a blood glucose meter reading, especially if your sensor readings don’t match how you feel.

How many test strips do you need from your GP?

You’ll need a steady supply of test strips because you will need to use a new one every time you check your glucose levels, whether you’re measuring your glucose with CGM, flash or a blood glucose meter alone. Your GP should prescribe you as many as you need, depending on how often you need to test each day.

If you have any issues getting the meter or number of test strips you need from your GP, contact us for help.

Are blood glucose meters accurate?

Blood glucose meters are generally reliable. Like any devices they are not perfect but how you use and look after them can help their accuracy. Find out more about how accurate blood glucose meters are.

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