What Are Blood Glucose Test Strips?

So you might know that blood glucose test strips are little strips that go inside your blood glucose monitor – but you probably don’t know much more than that. However, it’s always good to ask questions and gain a full understanding of your testing equipment, how to use it, and how it works. The truth is that there’s a lot that goes into these tiny little strips!

What Are Blood Glucose Test Strips?

Blood glucose test strips have been used to help monitor blood glucose levels since 1965. Blood glucose test strips are made of plastic and are single-use. However, some blood glucose test strips allow for additional blood to be added during the reading process if necessary. Blood glucose test strips are the middleman between your blood and the blood glucose meter. The strip is actually coated with chemicals like glucose oxidase that create an electric current thanks to small amounts of gold that is also on the test strip to act as a conductor. The electric current is then sent to the blood glucose meter, which then analyzes the current and is able to give you a reading of your blood glucose levels based on how strong the current was.

What Is a Blood Glucose Meter?

A blood glucose meter is a small electronic device that is able to display your blood glucose levels by using a blood sample along with a blood glucose test strip. Different brands of blood glucose meters require different brands of blood glucose test strips.

There are also two different types of blood glucose meters:

  • Self-monitoring blood glucose meters: These are your typical blood glucose monitors that require a small blood sample, usually from pricking your finger, along with a blood glucose test strip to provide you with a digital blood glucose reading. Depending on the specifics of your disease, you might have to perform tests once a day, or several times a day.
  • Continuous glucose monitors: If you aren’t too keen on pricking your finger multiple times a day, there are also continuous glucose monitors that do not require this. Instead, they are implanted underneath your skin by a doctor and provide near-constant readings so that you do not have to physically do the work yourself.

Based on your lifestyle and your condition, you can coordinate with your doctor to find a blood glucose monitoring system that works for you.

How to Use a Blood Glucose Meter and Test Strips?

When it comes to using a blood glucose meter and test strips, it might be a little weird at first. After all, you probably aren’t used to pricking your own finger on a regular basis! The good news is that you will get used to it quickly and the blood will stop bothering you. Humans are known for their adaptability – and this is just another thing that you will have to adapt to. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use a blood glucose meter and test strips to accurately measure your blood glucose levels:

  1. Start by washing your hands thoroughly with warm soap and water.
  2. Turn your blood glucose meter on and insert a new strip that is designed for that specific meter.
  3. Use an alcohol prep pad to sanitize the injection site which is usually a fingertip.
  4. Use the lancet to prick your sanitized fingertip and gently squeeze the injection site to create a drop of blood.
  5. Transfer the blood from your finger onto the blood glucose strip.
  6. Wait for the meter to read your blood sample.
  7. Read the results on the device’s screen and address accordingly.

Here are some additional tips to ensure that your blood glucose levels are as accurate as possible:

  • Check the expiration date of test strips and do not use expired strips.
  • Store your test strips in a cool, dry area away from high temperatures and moisture.
  • Make sure to code or calibrate your test strips with each new box, if necessary.
  • Make sure that your hands are thoroughly washed and dried before doing a reading.

Why Is It Important to Monitor Your Blood Glucose Levels?

It’s super important to monitor your blood glucose levels if you have diabetes to avoid complications with hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Hyperglycemia, especially, has severe long-term consequences if not properly managed. In fact, it can lead to things like heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, vision loss, joint problems, and oral infections. Extremely high blood sugar levels can cause diabetic ketoacidosis or a hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state – both of which can lead to a life-threatening comatose state. 

Blood glucose strips might seem insignificant but they are actually vital to managing your diabetes. Along with a healthy diet, proper exercise, and weight management practices, you can learn to manage your diabetes and consistently keep your blood glucose levels in range and still enjoy doing the things you love.