How to Use Diabetes Test Strips
There are more than 34 million people in the United States living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. That’s more than 1 out of every 10 individuals – a pretty staggering percentage.
The good news is thanks to continued advancements in medicine and new innovations in diabetes products, including blood glucose meters, living with the disease is easier and more convenient than ever before. In fact, diabetic supplies from top manufacturers, such as FreeStyle, Accu-Chek and One Touch, can now be purchased online from reputable suppliers, often at dramatic savings over local pharmacies and other outlets.
However, while advancements in science and technology certainly take some of the headaches out of managing diabetes, it’s still important to do things right - particularly when it comes to testing and measuring your blood sugar level.
Most people with diabetes rely on glucose meters and test strips to test their blood glucose each day. Fortunately, this is a quite simple and relatively painless process. That being said, there are some important considerations to be aware of, particularly when it comes to test strips. Using them improperly can result in inaccurate blood sugar readings, which will certainly hinder your diabetes management program, as well as lead to a few minor complications that you’d just rather avoid.
What follows are some dos and don’ts to measuring your blood glucose level using diabetic test strips and glucose meters. We hope they help with your testing program and overall diabetes management plan.
10 Tips to Using Diabetic Test Strips
First, we thought you might like to know a little more about how those test strips you use each day actually work. Essentially, today’s test strips feature enzymes that convert blood sugar into an electrical current. This current is then measured by your standard glucose meter which reports it as the concentration of glucose in your blood. In other words, those little strips hold some advanced science. Still, they couldn’t be much simpler to use and here are a few tips and considerations to doing it right.1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly
Wash your hands with soap and warm water and be sure to dry them completely. Why is washing so important? Because anything on your fingers – residue from the apple you just ate or any other contaminant – will find its way into that drop of blood and impact your blood sugar reading. Also be sure to dry properly as getting test strips wet prior to testing can also lead to inaccurate readings.2. Stick with your fingertip (no pun intended) and don’t squeeze
While it might sting just a little more than pricking your arm, the finger provides the most accurate reporting of your blood sugar level. Also, there’s no need to squeeze out the blood. In fact, this can force other fluids from your body into the drop of blood being tested, which can impact results. For the best results, allow a small drop of blood to form on the fingertip, wipe way this first drop, and then test using the following drop that forms.3. Avoid pricking the pad of your fingertip
This isn’t an accuracy issue, but rather one of comfort. The pad of your fingertip gets a lot of use, whether it’s typing on a keyboard, pressing elevator buttons, or playing an instrument. The pad also happens to be the most sensitive part of the fingertip. Here’s a good rule to follow. Place your hands together, palm to palm. Now you can see the edges of the fingertip that are clearly visible. Prick here on the edge to avoid the finger pad entirely. Rest assured; your blood sugar results will be exactly the same.4. You may need a correct code to ensure an accurate reading
When you open a new package of test strips, look for a code on the packaging. While newer glucose meters don’t require a code, more dated models just might. Basically, entering the code automatically calibrates the meter to ensure an accurate reading. If your meter requires a code be sure you enter it, otherwise you can’t be sure your blood glucose report is accurate.5. Check your test strip packaging and expiration dates
Never use a test strip that has been opened prior to the moment you are set to use it. Not only is there a likelihood the test strip has been contaminated, when left in the open-air test strips become unstable and inaccurate. Only use test strips that you open yourself right before you conduct a blood sugar test. Also, be sure to check the expiration date on the packaging. While most test strips will be viable for a year or more when left unopened, they don’t last forever. It’s also a good idea to check those dates before purchasing. Who knows how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf? Or purchase your test strips online from a supplier, such as Diabetic Warehouse, that promises long expiration dates and mint condition products on every order.6. Use fresh lancets and never reuse them
There are a lot of doctor-recommended lancets and lancing devices on the market from brands like One Touch, Accu-Chek and FreeStyle. Which lancet and device are right for you really depends on personal preference, budget, and any recommendations your diabetes physician might provide? However, as a universal rule, it’s important to always use a fresh, unopened lancet when conducting a blood sugar test. While diabetes treatment and supplies can get expensive, trying to save a few bucks by reusing lancets is a big mistake. For starters, it’s unsanitary. Additionally, lancets dull quickly, and it can become quite painful if you try to use them more than once. Your best bet is to shop diabetic suppliers who guarantee both low prices and top quality.7. Test your glucose meter anytime you open a new box of test strips
If you’ve been testing your blood sugar long enough, you’ve probably seen an impossibly odd result or two. This can happen for several reasons, but it’s important to make sure your glucose meter and test strips are functioning properly together. One way to do this is with your test strips and a liquid glucose control solution. It’s an easy process and a good rule of thumb every time you open a new box of test strips or anytime your blood sugar results don’t match how you feel. Simply place a drop of control solution on a test strip and insert it into your glucose meter. The result displayed on your meter should be within the target range stated on the control solution packaging. If it is, you’re in good shape. If not, there’s probably something wrong with your glucose meter.8. Switch up your testing fingers
Here’s another tip for your comfort. For some reason, many people tend to test blood sugar levels by using the same finger again and again. It’s just a matter of habit. However, switching up fingers each day, or even for each test, can make things a little more comfortable and will not in any way compromise your test results.9. Check to see if other blood components can interfere with test results
Everyday medicines, like acetaminophen, and common supplements you might be taking, such as Vitamin C, may impact test readings. Most test strips will list things that might interfere with proper measurements on the packaging. It’s a good idea to check them out to see if anything you might be ingesting can compromise your blood sugar test results.
10. Follow your doctor’s testing protocol
Remember, you’re testing your blood glucose levels for a reason. You and your doctor are looking for definite patterns in your blood sugar, which is why it’s important to test yourself according to your doctor’s recommendations. Most likely, your testing schedule will include morning and bedtime, before and after meals, as well as before and after any rigorous physical activity. The point is to see how influences such as diet and exercise impact your blood sugar, which can also impact the dosage and frequency of insulin injections and other medications. Always follow your doctor-recommended testing and treatment schedule because that’s how you’ll gain the best control over your diabetes.
We hope you found these blood sugar testing tips helpful. Should you have any questions about test strips or any other aspect of diabetes health and treatment, the best source for answers is your diabetes physician and care team.
At Diabetic Warehouse, we offer a complete online selection of glucose meters, test strips and lancets, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, and infusion sets by leading manufacturers, such as Accu-Chek, One Touch, FreeStyle, Dexcom, Easy Comfort, True Metrix and others. You’ll save up to 65% off pharmacy prices and we provide free delivery to your home or office. See reviews from our satisfied customers and explore our great selection of products at diabeticwarehouse.org.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.