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There are various blood sugar monitors for people with diabetes. Some devices may require individuals to regularly prick their fingers, while others only require finger pricking for calibration purposes. They measure a person’s blood sugar levels and help doctors determine whether they need further treatment.

This article explores the different blood sugar monitors that do not require finger pricking and some products available for purchase. It also describes some factors that may help people choose the right device.

A quick look at 4 of the best blood sugar monitors

Some blood sugar monitors that do not involve finger prick collection for people with diabetes include continuous glucose monitors, earlobe tests, and breath tests.

Continuous glucose monitors

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) check blood sugar levels automatically at timed intervals. People do not need to prick their fingers to test their blood sugar levels, but finger pricks may be useful to calibrate the device.

According to an older study, a person has to put the CGM sensor under the skin of the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, or upper arm to test for glucose in interstitial fluid and other tissue. This fluid transports oxygen and nutrients to cells and helps them remove waste materials.

CGM devices can test glucose levels every 5 minutes. They come with a sensor, transmitters, and receivers or display units that provide regular reports, real-time data to an app or connected device, or a combination of both. Additionally, each separate part has its own price, and a person may need to replace sensors and transmitters regularly.

Some CGMs also require regular calibration using blood glucose meter (BGMs) readings, while others do not need frequent calibration. Individuals should follow the manufacturer’s instructions or seek help from a medical professional who can advise on using the device.

Advantages and disadvantages

CGMs offer various advantages and disadvantages.

Some advantages of these devices include the following:

  • They can detect extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels, according to a 2017 study.
  • They can help people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes improve their blood sugar levels, according to 2020 research.
  • They reduce the need for finger pricks.
  • They reduce the occurrence of experiencing low blood sugar levels.

However, some disadvantages include the below:

  • Doctors may be unable to suggest a treatment plan using CGM data alone.
  • A person may need a finger prick to calibrate the device.
  • Several factors, such as user error, can reduce the device’s effectiveness, according to one study.
  • They typically cost more than BGMs.

Earlobe tests

Some monitors can check blood glucose levels through the ear lobes. However, according to 2019 research, earlobe scanning is not as effective for people with type 1 diabetes, especially during periods of exercise or very low blood sugar.

Integrity Applications, a company that focuses on needle-free blood glucose monitoring, manufactures GlucoTrack. This battery-operated noninvasive device helps people with type 2 diabetes monitor their blood glucose levels through their ear lobes.

At the time of publication, these tests do not have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, Integrity Applications is planning to submit the device for trials to gain approved status.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes should speak with a doctor before using a blood sugar monitor, as they can determine whether they are safe and suitable for their condition.

Breath tests

Glucose breath tests may one day benefit people with diabetes and are also available for purchase.

These devices do not directly measure blood glucose levels — they use glucose in a person’s exhaled breath to measure total blood glucose levels.

However, manufacturers often market breath monitors for people interested in keto diets and wishing to monitor their blood sugar levels.

A person should be cautious when shopping for a blood glucose monitor. A 2012 study notes that breath monitors may claim they can manage diabetes. The authors also affirm that if these devices undergo further development, they may benefit individuals, especially children with diabetes and cystic fibrosis, as they are easy and safe to use.

Additionally, a 2020 study also notes that breath devices need to undergo additional, large-scale studies to determine how biological factors may affect the lag time and the reported glucose levels.

Breath tests currently do not have approval for managing blood sugar levels. A person should speak with a doctor before purchasing a breath test, particularly if they want to monitor their levels closely.

CGMs can help people with diabetes monitor and maintain their blood glucose levels. While they do not involve finger pricking, they may be useful for calibrating the device.

Earlobe, breath, and other noninvasive devices may be beneficial for monitoring blood glucose levels, especially in children with the same condition and those who have cystic fibrosis. However, they are not FDA-approved, and some may need further testing to determine their safety and accuracy.

To learn more about diabetes and how to monitor and manage the condition, visit our dedicated hub.

MNT chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria:

  • Budget: MNT chooses products that suit a wide range of budgets.
  • FDA approval: MNT chooses products that have been cleared or approved by the FDA.
  • Smartphone compatibility: MNT selects products that are easily connected to smart devices and provide regular readings via an app.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Below are four blood sugar monitors that do not require finger pricks.

Best smartphone compatibility: Dexcom G6 CGM System

  • Price: $1,099.99

The Dexcom G6 CGM System provides automatic updates to a connected smart device or app. People with Medicare may need to purchase the connected device monitor, but they can also use their phone or tablet. The app notifies the user if their glucose levels are low or high.

The device comes with transmitters and three sensors that last 90 days and 10 days, respectively, so people need to purchase new components regularly.

The Dexcom G6 CGM System is available at various pharmacies across the United States and in online stores.

Best rechargeable transmitter: The Guardian Connect System

  • Price: $620 for the transmitter and $345 for three sensors

The Guardian Connect System is a CGM device that can send early warnings of potential high glucose levels to a person before they occur. The company reportedly works with over 600 insurance companies to help people get the system at a lower price.

The Guardian Connect System features:

  • a rechargeable transmitter that does not need replacing
  • a smartphone app for Android and iOS devices
  • a free 30-day trial

A person can fill out a form online to enroll in the free trial.

Best for a small budget: FreeStyle Libre 2 System

  • Price: $0–60 a month with insurance

The FreeStyle Libre 2 system automatically measures glucose levels.

The device’s features include:

  • a 14-day free trial with training
  • optional glucose alarms
  • sensors that last for up to 14 days at a time

According to the company, the device’s app is not compatible with all mobile devices. A person can check online if their phone is compatible with the app.

The website states that a person’s insurance may cover up to $60 a month in expenses for the device.

Additionally, people can sign up for a free trial on the company’s website.

Best long-lasting sensors: Eversense CGM

  • Price: Approximately $200–300 for insertion and $300–400 for removal and sensor change

Eversense is a blood sugar monitor device that received FDA approval in 2018.

It measures the glucose in the interstitial fluids every 5 minutes before sending information to the linked app. The sensors work for up to 90 days, so a person must replace them every 3 months.

However, the device requires individuals to visit a doctor’s office for insertion, so it may not be the best option for those unable to visit a doctor in person.

Additionally, the Eversense CGM can be sensitive to direct sunlight. This may affect the insertion site, often in the upper arm.

The price of this device may vary on a person’s insurance. People can also pay with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA). A person can check the approximate costs of the Eversense CGM on the company’s website.

The table below provides a comparison between each of the blood sugar monitors in this article.

Dexcom G6Guardian ConnectFreestyle Libre 2Eversense
Cost$1,099.99 for transmitter and three sensors • $620 for transmitter

• $345 for three sensors
$0–60 a month with insurance • $200–300 for insertion

• $300–400 for removal and sensor change
Sensor life10 days7 days14 days90 days
Transmitter life90 daysrechargeablerechargeablerechargeable, requires daily charging
Smartphone compatibleyesyesyesyes

People who have diabetes and wish to buy a blood sugar monitor without a finger prick collection should consider some factors before committing to a purchase. These include:

  • Price: Blood sugar monitors vary in price, depending on the components, as they may need regular replacement. Some models also require visits to a doctor’s office, which may incur costs.
  • Ease of use: CGMs require less finger pricking, so they may be a more suitable option for those buying the devices for children.
  • Insurance: Some companies allow the customer’s insurance company to cover some of the device’s costs.
  • Approval: People should consult a doctor to help them choose an FDA-approved device. Some monitors are still undergoing review or require further development.
  • Additional features: Individuals should check the devices’ features, such as apps and displays.

Below are answers to the top frequently asked questions about blood glucose monitors.

How can I check my blood sugar at home without a meter?

A person may use a lancet to prick their finger. This collects a small blood sample which a person can drop onto a test strip. This test strip will indicate a person’s sugar level.

Is there a watch that monitors blood sugar?

Various brands, including Dexcom, offer watches to monitor blood sugar. These watches do not exclusively measure blood sugar. Rather, they allow users to view their blood sugar levels from their CGM device.

Where can I test my blood sugar besides my finger?

The finger is the most reliable area for a person to test their blood sugar. However, some monitors may allow for alternate site testing. These alternate sites may include the palm, upper forearm, abdomen, calf, and thigh.

A person should always check the instructions on their blood glucose monitor to check if this is possible before performing alternate site testing.

CGMs are a suitable option for people who have diabetes and wish to monitor their blood sugar levels without regular finger pricks.

Pharmacies and internet providers stock various types of models. With this in mind, a person should check with their doctor to help them choose the right product for their condition. Additionally, some devices are not FDA-approved, so they may not be safe or accurate.

Finally, individuals should compare the devices’ features before making a purchase.