Thinking about a FreeStyle Glucose Meter? Here is what you need to know.
Diabetics do not live an easy life. We have to constantly monitor our blood sugar levels and keep them controlled. Blood sugar monitoring is a daily affair. We have to deal with regular tests, restrictions, and medications.
A Freestyle Glucose Meter enables diabetic patients to keep track of their blood glucose or sugar levels and take corrective steps like changing their diet, and taking oral or injected insulin.
Over the counter Freestyle Glucose Monitors are a convenient and effective way of checking blood sugar levels. There are a variety of meters to choose from in the FreeStyle family and they all quickly (average of 5 seconds) display blood glucose levels. These devices are very simple to operate allowing you to cn test your blood sugar levels wherever and whenever you feel the need.
This means that people technically do not need to rely on a doctor to know their sugar levels. It is not even required for them to visit a health care center or clinic to give their blood sample. We don’t recommend this approach though… read the end of this article about the variance in meters and the best way to understand your blood sugar levels.
Most of the FreeStyle meters require manual testing of a blood sample you take via a finger stick. These include:
• FreeStyle Lite
• FreeStyle Freedom Lite
• FreeStyle InsuLinx
• FreeStyle Precision Neo
One of Abbot’s new FreeStyle Meters, the Libre Pro, is a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGMS). This means it displays continuous blood glucose readings but you have to wear a small sensor at all times to get these readings. For the purposes of this article we will focus on the manual blood testers, not the continuous monitoring system since the CGMS system requires a doctor to use.
All of the FreeStyle glucometers will store the date, time and actual reading so you do not need to write your readings on paper to keep records. The device has the capacity to remember your levels in its memory and you can show it to your doctor or whenever it is required.
• FreeStyle Lite – up to 400 test results with date and time
• FreeStyle Freedom Lite - up to 400 test results with date and time
• FreeStyle InsuLinx - up to 165 days based on 3 tests and 3 insulin logs per day
• FreeStyle Precision Neo - up to 1,000 events
Personally, I still write all of my readings down on paper in my blood glucose log. I need to be able to see my readings over time and easily see what my blood sugar was after breakfast for the past 5 days, for example. I also jot down what I ate in my paper log so I can see how various foods affect my blood sugar level.
Some of the FreeSyle Glucose Meters have backlighting so you can read your results in the dark or low light situations. Back lighting is included on the FreeStyle Lite and FreeStyle InsuLinx meters. These two meters also include test strip port lighting so you can see where to insert the test strip in the dark. This is handy if you are in a darkened movie theater for example!
Alternate Site Testing
Alternate site testing is where you can test using a back of the arm blood draw or another blood draw location other than a finger stick. This means that the lancing device needs to have a special adapter. The FreeStyle Light System and the FreeStyle Freedom Lite System both include the ability to perform alternate site testing.
Longer battery life means that you don’t have to swap out batteries as often. Alternatively, batteries are heavy, so long battery life also will mean a bigger, heavier glucose meter. Here is how long each of the FreeStyle meters is expected to last between battery changes.
• FreeStyle Lite – up to 500 tests
• FreeStyle Freedom Lite - up to 1,000 tests
• FreeStyle InsuLinx - up to 3,000 tests
• FreeStyle Precision Neo - up to 3,000 tests
• Easy to use
• Accurate and reliable
• Recognizable brand
• Quick results
• Test strips are cheaper than some of the other top / reliable brands
• A bit expensive compared to other brands (but more reliable in our opinon see below)
I’ve found my Freestyle Lite Glucose Meter to be very user friendly, reliable and accurate. This has been my trusty, go-to meter for the past two years. I have it with me in my purse at all times.
I manage my diabetes with diet alone meaning that I carefully watch my blood sugar levels to understand how different foods affect me. By taking this approach and following a ketogenic / low carb diet, I have been able to reverse my diabetes for the past 8 years. By this, I mean that my A1c levels are that of a non-diabetic as are my fasting blood sugar levels.
Because I am taking this approach, having a reliable meter that gives me accurate readings is essential. One thing that most people don’t realize is that a diabetes test meter can have up to a 20% variance in its readings.
Within the medical community, over the counter blood sugar meters are considered clinically accurate if the result is within 20 percent of what a lab test would indicate. For example, if your glucose meter result was 100 mg/dL, it could vary on the downside to 80 mg/dL or on the up side to 120 mg/dL and still be considered clinically accurate.
It is unfortunate that test meters can have this big of a variance, because it makes it hard for people who are trying to maintain their blood sugar levels tightly. If you are working to maintain your blood sugar levels without medication like I am, a fasting blood sugar level that can vary between 80-120 mg/dL is way too much since anything under 100 mg/dL indicates you are doing a good job managing your blood sugar while over that indicates that you may need to be taking medication.
When it was time for a new meter, I tried out three different brands while I was at the doctor for a blood test. That way I could compare the meters against the actual test result from the doctor and choose the meter that was giving me the best accuracy. I got widely different readings from each of the three meters. The Walgreens brand meter had the highest reading 107 mg/dL. The Walmart (Relion) test kit was also high (for me) with a reading of 97 mg/dL. My trusty Freestyle Lite meter measured in at 82 mg/dL. The blood test from the doctor came back at 85 mg/dL so my Freestyle Lite meter was the closest.
To deal with the accepted variance, and to minimize it, I have found that using one meter over time is the best since the readings will be the most consistent and can be compared with one another. I also pay attention to any changes in readings when I go from one box of test strips to the next so I don’t over-react if my readings change (go up or down) when I open a new box.
The best way to verify that you are doing a good job managing your blood sugar levels is to have an A1c blood test once a quarter. The A1c will tell you what your average blood sugar level has been over time and is the best indicator of your overall blood sugar maintenance.