Blood glucose test strips (diabetes test strips) are a key component of blood glucose testing.
These small disposable strips of plastic may look insignificant but they provide a very important role in helping people with diabetes to monitor and control their diabetes.
In the vast majority of cases, each meter will take one type of test strip only. There are some blood glucose meters however that take blood ketone strips as well, to test for ketone levels.
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HOW DO DIABETES TEST STRIPS WORK?
When blood is placed onto the test strip, it reacts with a chemical called glucose oxidase producing gluconic acid from the glucose in the blood. At the other end of the test strip, the meter transfers a current to the test strip. The test strip has electric terminals which allow the meter to measure the current between the terminals.
The current between the terminals changes depending on the level of gluconic acid that has been produced. The blood glucose meter then uses an algorithm to work out the blood glucose level based upon the difference in current.
Some blood glucose test strips allow the reapplication of more blood to the same test strip if needed during the test. The amount of blood required by a test strip can vary between manufacturers. Generally, between 0.5 μl to 1 μl of blood is required.
Some test strips, not so commonly used these days, do not require a meter. When blood is placed on the active part of the strip and then wiped off after a specified number of seconds, the reagent will change colour and the result can be obtained by matching the colour produced against a colour chart on the side of the pot.
It is less accurate than using a blood glucose meter but the test strips can often be cheaper.
WHERE CAN I GET TEST STRIPS?
Blood glucose test strips are available either on prescription or can be bought from pharmacies or online.
HOW LONG DO BLOOD GLUCOSE STRIPS LAST FOR?
Blood glucose test strips will usually have a use by date on the strips or box they come in. After opening, blood glucose test strips will typically be good to use for another 3 to 6 months but refer to the box or information leaflet for advice specific to your brand of test strips.
If you have more than one box of test strips, it’s a good idea to use the oldest one first, so they don’t expire.