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A Guide To Choosing And Acquiring A Free Glucose Meter

Mar 31, 2008
Many Diabetic conditions require monitoring of glucose levels several times each day. A glucose meter monitors your glucose by using a sample of blood that has been placed on a test strip. The test strip, treated with a chemical, causes a reaction in the blood droplet. It is then placed into the meter. Once inside the meter, the method of measurement is determined by the type of machine you use. In some, the glucose will be measured by passing electricity through the blood to determine how much actually passes through. Other types will do so by measuring how much light is reflected from the blood sample.

There are many types of meters available. It is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Select a meter you are comfortable with. Some meters require more blood than others to perform the test. There are different sizes of meters, as well as differences in price; however, most perform within the same range of accuracy.

Meters are now run by battery and are portable. The downside is the cost of battery replacement.
Most meters have a digital readout. This is a disadvantage for those with sight deficiencies. There are meters available that give verbal reports. Most meters are inexpensive and can be replaced every 2-3 years to ensure accuracy in your equipment. However, the test strips are not interchangeable.

Most systems deliver accurate reports, however, your meter must be properly cared for to maintain accurate readings. Factors such as humidity and temperature can affect readings. If you think this may be a factor review the instructions enclosed for directions of care under your specific circumstances.

A very small amount of blood is required for the test, but before obtaining the blood for the test, the spot that will serve as the test source should be cleaned with a disposable isopropyl alcohol wipe. These are available at most pharmacies. It is important to test a clean area, and equally important that you allow the alcohol to dry before extracting the blood. Once the finger or alternative site is pricked with the lancet, the blood is carefully placed on the test strip. The strip is then placed into the meter.

Some monitoring systems require a sterile lancet to prick your finger. A lancet is very small, usually made of plastic. It holds a very small, needle-like blade for pricking the finger. The amount of blood required for testing will determine the size of the lancet you will need. The smaller the blade, the less it will hurt. There are also pen-shaped lancing devices that will insert the lancet with the press of a button using a spring device. Most people find this less painful than the type of lancets that require you to actually puncture the skin using your own force. You will also need test strips for collecting the blood droplet to be inserted into the glucometer. It is a good idea to use sterile cotton balls to stop the blood flow if necessary. When selecting a monitor you should also compare the prices of the test strips as well. Test strips can be expensive if you do not have insurance.

Most drug manufacturers have an assistance program. The Abbott Patient Assistance Program as well as Roche Diagnostics has a program in place that assists low income families with medical needs. They use the Federal Poverty Guidelines to determine assistance, but in extenuating circumstances will assist patients on Medicare or Medicaid as well.

The Abbott Diabetes Care Patient Assistance Program will assist with both meters and testing strips. Roche will assist with the testing strips only. Most manufacturers list contact phone numbers on product packaging, and can be contacted through this number. Assistance comes in the form of vouchers that can be filled at your local pharmacy. Abbot can be contacted at 1-888-522-5226, or by writing to Abbot Diabetes Care, Inc - 1360 South Loop Road - Alameda, California - 94502. Roche Manufacturing can be contacted at 1-866-441-4090.

Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans pay for Diabetic testing equipment. You will be required to obtain a prescription. Your physician will need to write a prescription for the monitor, lancets and alcohol wipes for costs to be covered. Most insurance companies require approval before purchase. Have the pharmacist or medical supply company verify approval before the purchase is completed.
Military Veterans may be eligible for assistance based on their level of disability. Assistance can be determined by contacting your local Veterans Affairs office.

Many medical supply companies offer free monitors if you purchase your strips from them, however, the strips are usually the more costly of the two. Physicians often have samples from pharmaceutical companies. If you need assistance, explain your situation, don't be afraid to ask for help.
About the Author
Sam Gurgis is a scientific writer. More information on free glucose meters is available at cyberdiabetes.com
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