Diabetes management relies on monitoring blood glucose levels frequently. One must monitor their blood sugar levels in response to exercise, food, medication, and other activities. The fluctuating blood glucose values that can be very low or very high can lead to serious medical complications. Hence, blood glucose monitoring requires frequent measurement of blood glucose levels. Glucose test strips are a commonly used, simple, and practical diabetes test technique to measure blood sugar levels. The glucometer provides a reading of blood glucose.
What are Test Strips?
Test strips are low-cost and straightforward tools to detect an analyte using a reactive chemical. These test strips may require a small amount of analyte, or they have to be dipped entirely in the analyte. The test strip detection method is an effective and easy technique used by a large population. Blood glucose test strips are small disposable plastic strips used for self-testing blood glucose levels in the comfort of the home. These strips require a drop of blood and can provide an accurate value of blood glucose levels that are read with the help of a glucometer.
How do they work?
The small glucose test strips have five layers. When these strips contact the drop of blood, the top liquid attracting layer absorbs the blood instantly. Then the enzyme named glucose oxidase present in these glucose strips reacts with glucose in the blood and converts it into gluconic acid. Then the gluconic acid produces the electric current that passes through the electric circuit present in the test strip and gives the reading in the glucose metre. The generation of electric current depends on the amount of gluconic acid generated, that is, relative to the amount of glucose in the blood.
Some test strips do not require a glucometer for reading. They consist of reagents that change colour according to the amount of glucose present in the blood. The results can be read by matching with a standard colour chart.
The accuracy of glucose test strips varies with the brand. As different brands follow different technologies in manufacturing these strips, the accuracy of the final result can also vary accordingly. According to the Diabetic Technology Society of the United States, the test strip readings should be within 15 % of the laboratory value 95 % of the time.
Currently, some of India’s most accurate glucose strips and glucometer brands are:
- Accu-Chek Active Blood Glucose Metre Kit
- A One-Touch Select Plus Straightforward Blood Glucose Monitor
- A One-Touch Select Verio Flex Glucometer
- Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System
While few brands that are considered moderately accurate include:
- Accusure Blood Glucose Monitoring System Test Strips
- Trust Blood Sugar Testing Machine
- Beato Smartphone Sugar Testing Machine
Various factors associated with test strips affect the accuracy level. To ensure the accuracy is maintained, consider the following points:
- Do not use damaged test strips
- Do not use test strips after their expiry date
- Always store the test strips in a cool and dry place
- Use the test strips that are right for your glucometer
Where to buy it?
You can buy glucose test strips from the local pharmacies. These strips are also available at online pharmacy stores like Pharm Easy, TATA 1 mg, and e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart, and Snap deal. One can also check various diabetes support websites to get diabetes supplies, including test strips. To place a bulk order, it is always advisable to directly connect with the diabetes supply companies to get a maximum discount on the strips. The price of the glucose test strips depends on test time, accuracy, the technology used for manufacturing, and the overall customer rating of the brand.
Brands like Dr. Morepen Blood Glucose Test Strips, Control D Blood Glucose Test Stripes, and Poct Glucospot Strips are India’s few cheapest test strips brands.
The glucose strips in India are available over the counter, and there is no need to show prescriptions to buy them. But few insurance companies might demand the prescription of test strips to cover the expenses of glucose strips. In addition, few insurance companies require detailed prescriptions with the number of strips needed every day and the duration of usage.
Expired Test Strips
The expiration date for glucose test strips varies with brand. Most of the brands of these test strips have a shelf life of 18-24 months. After opening, the test strips can be used for 3-6 months. Few researchers advise that one can use test stripes even after their official expiration date. But as the time passes from the expiration date, the level of accuracy of glucose test strips reduces. Hence, to check blood glucose, always use test strips within their expiry date. Use the older ones first to ensure they do not expire. In case test strips are expired, always dump them in biowaste so that they get segregated and recycled with minimal waste.
Glucose test strips are useful for monitoring blood glucose levels. It helps manage diabetes and prevents severe medical complications associated with low and high blood Sugar levels. They are easy to use and can be bought over the counter. The advancement in technology for manufacturing these strips has increased their accuracy over time.
Q1. Can we use different stripes in the glucometer?
Different glucometers have different chip codes that make them suitable for specific test strips only. The use of other brands of test strips can affect the accuracy of the test result. Moreover, generic brand strips can be used with any glucometer. Even generic test strips will not work in a few brands as they are coded to read the test strips of the same brand.
Q2. How many times can a glucose test strip be used?
Glucose test strips are designed so that they can only be used once. It is always advisable to use a new lancet and new test strips for every test, even if it is performed after a few minutes or hours.