Advances in monitoring tools

Although finger pricks remain the gold standard for blood sugar monitoring, researchers are developing products designed to take the "ouch" out of the process. You might ask your doctor about these alternatives.

Device How it works Considerations
Alternative site monitor Allows blood samples from areas likely to be less painful than your finger, such as your arm, abdomen or thigh Not as accurate as fingertip samples when blood sugar level is rising or falling quickly
Continuous glucose testing Uses a sensor placed under skin to measure blood sugar level; transmits each reading to a small recording device worn on your body; sounds an alarm if blood sugar level becomes too low or too high Expensive; requires sensor to be replaced every three to seven days depending on the brand; must check blood sugar level with a traditional monitor when dosing for insulin or treating low blood sugar to confirm readings

Infrared, laser light and electric current technologies are among a few of the possible offerings on the horizon for noninvasive methods of checking blood sugar levels. However, none have been approved yet in the U.S.

If you've looked at the costs, features and other considerations and are still unsure which blood glucose meter to buy, ask your doctor or diabetes educator for a recommendation. He or she can help you sort out the pros and cons and can answer questions about available models.

Jan. 10, 2012 See more In-depth