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Test Strips for Blood Glucose Monitoring: Common Queries Solved

Marie Cadotte posted this on May 19, 2020

Self glucose monitoring has revolutionized a great deal over the years. There’s been a lot of advertising buzz on the increasing availability and use of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) today. People are getting familiar with these modern devices with the passing years. Nevertheless, if the majority section is considered, they are still comfortable with the traditional finger-pricking process which calls for the use of traditional glucose monitors and test strips.

A recent concern around this traditional mode of glucose monitoring is that apart from the high cost of insulin, a lot of money needs to be shelled out for accessories like batteries, test strips, etc. Among these, the latter (test strips) is one of the most crucial accessories required in the finger-prick method.

A detailed analysis of the need and importance of test strips...

1. Why are testing strips so popular in the case of glucose monitoring?

They were developed as early as the year 1965 to be used in clinics, hospitals, and patient care units only to become available for home-use post-1980. It is said that the finger prick method (since it is directly associated with your body’s blood) gives the most accurate results. Also, the result can be stored in the device for future use. Popularity is associated with familiarity – those accustomed to the use of ‘lancets’, usually prefer to go for this method!

2. In what mechanism do the strips work?

At first, a ‘lancet’ is needed to quick-prick the tip of your finger. The drop of blood obtained is transferred to one edge of the strip. The strip is loaded with some chemicals. The glucose in your blood reacts with the chemical to generate an electric current. The electrons that travel to the meter allow the latter to determine how much glucose was required to generate that current. Thus, the blood glucose level is revealed.

3. What amount of accuracy is guaranteed by test strips?

Apparently, newer technologies like CGMs might seem less complicated than the working of these strips. It is indeed so. This has been determined by some recent studies that have lab-tested the same blood samples that were used in some of the popular glucose meters. While many popular brands have yielded a nearly cent percent accuracy, there were a few that did not meet the required standards. Hence, accuracy depends more on which product you are choosing!

Nevertheless, you needn’t worry much; if you are not very anxious about precise insulin dosing, results that fall within 20 percent of the lab results are safe enough!

4. Do test strips get insurance coverage?

According to the surveys of different organizations, most patients with diabetes in the U.S get insurance coverage for their test strips. To be precise, 82% of type-1 diabetics and nearly 76% of type-2 patients avail health insurance for this purpose. However, even after this your medical insurance may or may not cover the test strip that you prefer!

5. Do test strips come with an expiry date? Do I need to strictly abide by that?

Yes, strips come with a shelf life of 18 to 24 months. It is not that you need to discard them immediately after that, but the longer they are used post expiry, the more likely your results are to be screwed up!

6. Disposing of your glucose monitoring accessories

Disposal, in the case of using a traditional glucose monitoring kit, is a matter of pivotal importance. It is highly recommended that patients use a sharps container, instead of normal trash, for disposing of lancets, strips, etc.

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