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Home > Knowledge & support > Managing type 1 diabetes > Guide to type 1 diabetes technology > Blood glucose meters
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.
There are three components to a blood glucose meter – the meter itself, blood test strips, and a lancet to prick your finger.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about blood glucose meters and how you can get accurate readings.
What to look out for, how to measure for ketones, what the results mean and if you need to do anything.
Read more about how flash glucose monitoring can help you manage your glucose levels.
A smart insulin pen is a reusable self-injection pen, which records information about how much insulin you inject and the timing of it.
Blood glucose meters measure the amount of glucose in the blood. They are an important part of managing your blood glucose levels.
Continuous glucose monitoring can help you manage your glucose levels in real-time and relieve the burden of having to do multiple finger prick tests throughout the day.
A flash glucose monitor is a small wearable device that you scan with a reader or mobile phone to check your glucose levels.
Hybrid closed loop technology – also known as the artificial pancreas – automates many of the decisions that you have to make on a daily basis when you have type 1 diabetes.
Open source and DIY systems are sometimes used by people with type 1 diabetes or people caring for someone with type 1 to help manage the condition.
Apps can help you manage type 1 diabetes, from logging your insulin doses, glucose levels and the food you eat, to helping you count carbs and order prescriptions.