Despite the recent development of CGMs or continuous glucose monitors for monitoring the level of blood sugar, many diabetes patients are still using traditional diabetic test strips. Below are some facts regarding them and how they compare to newer monitoring tools.
How Do Traditional Test Strips Work?
This technology was developed during the mid-1960s and at first, was only available within physician offices, but by 1980 was being sold for home use. To obtain one’s blood sugar level a user or their caretaker would insert its strip within the meter then apply one droplet of the patient’s blood, utilizing a lancet style needle to prick the finger. The majority of readers can capture the reading within a few seconds, and some models allow the meter to store data for subsequent review by doctors.
The simplicity of these tools and their ability to be used at home made them wildly popular among diabetics. The test strip contains chemicals that will respond to glucose, generating an electrical current that enables the electrons to reach the meter. A meter can then decide the amount of glucose that is needed to produce the electricity, which is manifested by a blood glucose number that displays on its screen. Most test strips are comprised of at least 5 distinct layers which include a golden layer that is super thin and designed for conducting the current.
Glucose-based test strips may differ when it comes to accuracy. Generally speaking, you want a test strip and meter which produces blood sugar readings that are within fifteen percent of laboratory values. There are only a handful of brands that meet these criteria, so it is important to choose these products carefully.
Can Glucose Testing Strips Be Purchased Over The Counter?
Within the U.S., glucose testing strips may be purchased either directly from retail pharmacies and big-box outlets or can be acquired online. They do not require a doctor’s prescription but some insurance companies will require them when it comes to specific brands and supplies.
Test Strip Expiration Dates
These testing strips do have an expiration date, which will vary from one brand to another. The typical shelf life for most products is eighteen to twenty-four months. However, the majority of strips may be used for substantially longer than their stated expiration dates, which is beneficial to many people because it allows the strips to be placed in storage.
There are multiple variables that will determine how long a strip lasts, and if you do use one that has been expired for some time you may get results that are inaccurate. Finally, when you decide to dispose of glucose testing strips they should not be placed in standard garbage cans. Rather, you want to place them within biological waste or medical containers so that the components can be recycled and safely handled. Because of the rising cost of test strips in recent years, some people have resorted to purchasing “pre-owned” models, but this is not recommended and should be avoided.