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.
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Diabetes test trips are a simple and quick way of testing your blood sugar, also known as blood glucose levels. This testing is essential for people living with diabetes. These test strips work by “reading” the blood sugar levels displayed on the glucose meters. This allows diabetics to manage their disease effectively since they are aware of their own blood sugar levels. When they check their blood glucose regularly, they can then learn what type of food, medications or activities are good or bad for their blood sugar level.
To use a glucose test strip for checking the blood sugar, you need to first place a test strip into the blood glucose meter. Next, prick the skin on your fingertip using the lancet, which is the meter’s small, sharp needle. Squeeze a drop of blood, and let the blood touch the edge of the test strip. In a few seconds, the glucose meter will be able to provide an accurate blood sugar reading.
However, you should only use the test strip once, meaning you will have to use a new test strip each time you need to test for your blood sugar. It is advisable for you to consult your doctor as to how often you need to check your glucose level. If you have type 1 diabetes, you could be required to test up to 10 times a day. But if you have type 2 diabetes, it could just be two times a day instead.
Typically, glucose test strips come with an expiry or a use-by date on the outside of the box or on the strip itself. Once opened, the blood glucose test strips are generally good for use for three to six months approximately. Do refer to the leaflet placed inside the box or information printed on the box itself for any specific advice on your test strips. If you have to store more than a box of glucose test strips, it is recommended for you to first use the one with the earliest expiry date, or the one that is the oldest so that you prevent any wastage of test strips.
Using an expired test strip is not advised by experts and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as doing this can lead to inaccurate readings or results. When testing for blood sugar levels, accuracy is of the utmost importance as it can affect how diabetics manage their condition. It is always vital for you to double check or ask some questions with regards to the test strip’s potential effectiveness before you consider using a test strip past its good-for-use date. Questions could include whether the test strips have been exposed to high humidity levels or how they have been stored. It is recommended that you do not use glucose test strips that are long past the expiration. Do check with your doctor if they can still be used safely and what the potential risks are.