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Blood sugar meters

Blood sugar can traditionally be self-measured using a quick meter from the fingertip. There are various types of meters, and some can also measure blood ketones. Your own diabetesnurse will guide you in choosing the right meter.

The image shows a blue blood glucose meter with a test strip, and the display shows a reading of 5.8 mmol/liter.
In Finland, blood glucose meters display results in the unit millimoles per liter.

The generic term ‘blood sugar’ applies more specifically to glucose in plasma. The strip in the instant meter meant for self-monitoring takes whole blood from the capillary blood in the fingertip. The meter converts the result to the plasma glucose content.

The blood sugar check is based on biosensor technology, i.e. the enzyme reaction occurring in the strip. The most commonly used enzyme is glucose oxidase, which reacts with the glucose in the blood sample. The resulting reaction produces measurable electric tension. The change is relative to the sample’s glucose content or blood sugar level. The unit of measurement of blood sugar used in Finland is millimoles per litre (mmol/l).

The blood glucose strips come either in individual packages, tubs or ready in the strip cylinder. Some blood glucose meters also include designated strips to measure the blood ketone level.

The test results are recorded in the self-monitoring diary or they are automatically or manually transferred from the device onto a computer or to an application on a mobile device.

In the blood glucose meter or application, you can also log other treatment-related factors, such as your meals and the carbohydrates contained in them as well as exercise. The time settings of the meter must be correctly set in order to see the correct measurement times.

To get a free blood sugar meter and strips from your municipality’s care supplies distribution, you will need a referral from your care provider. The need for and frequency of blood sugar self-checks are recorded in your personal care plan, and the referral is submitted to the wellbeing service county's care supplies distribution. The care supplies distribution makes the final decision on the basis of the referral.

You can also buy a meter and strips at your own expense in a pharmacy or at an online store selling diabetes care equipment. The major diabetes associations also sell care equipment.

Wellbeing service counties periodically procure blood sugar meters and strips subject to a competitive tendering process. The available options usually include a basic meter and a few alternatives.

You can find information about the care supply distribution in your area on your wellbeing services county's website and from your own care provider.

There are differences in the availability of blood sugar meters. If the treatment centre offers several different meters, it is a good idea to find more information about them before making your choice. A weak grip, clumsiness or poor eyesight may limit your choice of blood glucose meter. There are also devices available based on special needs, such as talking blood glucose meters for people with a visual impairment.

Each meter comes with its own lancing device provided by the manufacturer. Every manufacturer also has their own lancets or needles used in the device. As a rule of thumb, all single-needle lancets are compatible with all lancing devices, and typically a lancet chosen through a procurement competition is used, regardless of the brand of the lancing device. An exception is lancing devices that use a "lancet drum" containing multiple needles. Your care facility ensures that you receive the correct amount and type of lancets from the care supply distribution.

You can check the device memory for the last measurement as well as browse the result history and view the average results over a specific period of time.

It is recommendable to download the measurement results into an application on your computer or mobile device.

You can find instructions for using the memory function in your meter's user manual.

Some meter models enable you to indicate whether the measurement was performed before or after a meal. Some devices also include various alert functions. It provides you with the option to set a reminder to perform a measurement after a meal, for instance.

You get most out of the results, if you record events related to your blood sugar results, such as insulin doses, amounts of carbohydrates, physical exercise and unusual situations, such as illness, low blood sugar symptoms or a party parallel with your blood sugar measurements. You can record such events in the traditional fashion in your self-monitoring diary or log them in your device memory or application.

You can get assistance with utilising these features from your care provider and from the instruction manual of your meter.

Some blood glucose meters include a dose calculator, which recommends a suitable insulin dose based on the blood sugar measurement result and the amount of carbohydrates in your meal. Once you have set the personal blood sugar target range, estimated duration of action of the rapid-acting insulin, insulin sensitivity and insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio in the meter or application, the device will suggest a suitable rapid-acting insulin dose. You must also take into account the potential effect of physical exercise on the insulin dose.

You can get assistance with utilising this feature from your care provider and from the instruction manual of your meter.

You can transfer the results and notes onto a computer or mobile device. You can download the application from the device manufacturer’s website or an app store. In some meters, the data is automatically transferred using Bluetooth® technology. Some need a cable, which is either supplied with the device or separately purchased.

Different applications make it possible to view the results in more detail as well as figures and graphs demonstrating the blood sugar balance. You can share the results with your care provider online.

Updated 30.9.2023