Medical devices such as blood glucose monitors and insulin pumps are becoming more essential to the day-to-day management of diabetes for many Canadians. Monitoring your blood sugar (glucose) levels can help you manage your diabetes better and can prevent life-threatening emergencies and complications.
Know your blood sugar
Blood sugar is the amount of sugar in your blood at a given time. It's important to check your blood sugar level, because it will:
- determine if you have a high or low blood sugar level at a given time
- show you how your lifestyle and medication affect your blood sugar levels
- help you and your diabetes health-care team make lifestyle and medication changes to improve your blood sugar levels
Types of devices
A blood glucose meter is used to check your blood sugar at home. You can get these meters at most pharmacies or from your diabetes educator. Talk with your diabetes educator or pharmacist about which one is right for you.
Before using your meter, make sure you're trained on how to use it. Ask your health-care provider about:
- how and where to get a blood sample
- how to use and dispose of lancets (the device that punctures your skin)
- the size of the drop of blood needed
- the type of blood glucose strips to use
- how to clean the meter
- how to check if the meter is accurate
- how to code your meter (if needed)
A flash glucose meter is a newer type of device that uses sensors to measure blood sugar and doesn’t require finger pricks. Instead, a sensor is inserted just underneath your skin (usually the upper arm) and measures your blood sugar levels. You use a hand-held scanner that you swipe over the sensor to read your blood sugar levels
Learn more about flash glucose meters, including coverage in Canada and what individuals have to say about their personal experiences with this technology.
A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a device that checks blood sugar level continuously throughout the day and also uses a sensor inserted under your skin. CGM, however, has continuous display of blood sugar and provides alarms for alerting the user of low and high blood sugar and integrates with insulin pump devices.
Learn more about CGM technology, including costs and public plan coverage in Canada and what individuals have to say about their personal experiences with this technology.
For those experiencing denied claims for CGM coverage from their private insurance companies, please feel free to use the prepared letter outlining Diabetes Canada’s concerns over potential misapplication of our Clinical Practice Guidelines.
Which is right for you?
Finding the best glucose monitoring system that is right for you is about finding the choice that best suits your needs. By considering the benefits and limitations between the different systems that are available in Canada, you can find a system that meets your individual requirements while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your diabetes care routine.
Our glucose monitoring comparison chart provides a summary of CGM, Flash glucose monitoring devices and test strips and meters.
You can take insulin with pens, syringes, or pumps according to your personal preference. Newer devices and shorter needle lengths are available to make taking insulin easier.
Insulin pens are loaded with a cartridge that contains insulin. They are convenient, easy to carry, and ensure accurate dosing. A needle tip is added. You will need a separate insulin pen for each type of insulin you use. If you need to use two types of insulin at the same time, you will need two separate pens and give yourself an injection from each pen.
Syringes today are smaller than ever and have finer needles with special coatings so injecting is as painless as possible. If you need to use two types of insulin at the same time, and they are not available in a premix formula, you can mix the insulin and give yourself only one injection.
Insulin pumps are a safe, effective way to deliver insulin and are most often used by people who need multiple injections of insulin for their diabetes. The device involves a small catheter, which is inserted under the skin, and a pump, which is about the size of a pager, that is worn outside the body.
Your right to access devices
It's your right to access the devices and medication you need. Learn more about our position here.Device rights About Your right to access devices
Learn about different medications and how they can help manage diabetes.Medication management About Medication management
Tools & resources
Resources to help you understand, manage, and thrive while living with diabetes.Tools & resources About Tools & resources