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Just as there is a myriad of glucometer types, there are also many differnt typs of diabetes testing strips.
Generally, the strips are constructed of plastic and an absorbant layer, which draws in and "holds" the blood to be tested.
Some strips have layers that pull the blood down a small channel in the strip, to the lens in the glucometer, where the blood sugar is "read." This channel is located on the very tip of the strip, for some test strips, and on the side of the strip, for others. Many of these strips require only a minute amount of blood to complete the test.
Others have a designated place on the strip, where you place a drop of blood, for the glucometer eye to read. These strips tend to require a larger drop, in order to complete the test.
The difference between the test strips can impact your choice of glucometer - and associated test strips - as some persons may find that one type of strip is easier to work with, than the other.
For the visually impaired, or those with nerve damage, the strips where you place the drop of blood may be easier to handle, as they tend to be bigger.
For those seeking a sleek and compact glucometer, the smaller meters come with the smaller strips, which are more readly carried in even shirt pockets due to their diminutive size.
Look at your lifestyle, and talk to your physician or pharmacy, as you decide on your glucometer - and test strips - to find the best fit for you.
Like the rest of your diabetic testing supplies, your diabetic test strips have an important role in managing your diabetes.
And like your glucometer, lancets and lancing device, if not used properly, will impair your ability to self-manage your disease.
To avoid unnecessary complications with your test strips:
1. Keep them in their sealed light-proof container. Light degrades the chemicals that coat the strip and bind to glucose to allow your meter to read the glucose level. This can give you an inaccurate reading.
2. Keep them free of moisture. Moisture can alter the chemicals that allow for reading of your blood glucose, giving you an erroneous value.
3. Keep the information about your test strips and other testing supplies, so that you have the information for re-ordering or if you have questions.
4. Always code check your test strips when you start a new vial of strips. This will ensure that your meter is reading based on the code of the strips.
5. Perform your controls using test strips from the vial you are currently utilizing to check your blood sugar. Different vials may be coded differently, and give you disparate values when you do your controls.
6. Insert them into your meter following the manufacturer's instructions. Improper placement of the strips will prevent you from obtaining a proper blood glucose reading and could inadvertantly get blood inside your meter.
Proper handling and management of your diabetic testing strips will improve your ability to obtain accurate blood sugars, to guide your self-care.
As an important part of your diabetic supplies, which all have their own special care and handling needs, your diabetic test strips do, as well.
Here are the key things to remember about managing your test strips:
1. Make sure that they are not expired. If
you do not test frequently, or have
suddenly come upon a bottle of strips
you didn't realize you had, check the
expiration date, to ensure that they are
2. Light adversely effects your diabetic
testing strips, which is why they are in
a light-impervious container. Open the
container, remove the strip you are
going to use, then re-seal the container.
3. Moisture will impair the strips' ability
to accurately test your blood sugar.
4. Don't re-use the test strips. If you
don't get enough blood on the strip the
first time, it is best to get a new
strip, rather than attempting to re-use
Testing your blood sugar is a vital component to diabetic self-management. Proper handling of your test strips will help to ensure that your blood sugar results are accurate.
If you have any questions about your test strips, talk to the company that provides your diabetes testing supplies.
A person with diabetes knows how to test their blood glucose; you place a small sample of blood on a disposable "diabetes test strip" after it has been inserted into the glucometer.
These test strips are coated with one or more of the following chemicals:
* glucose oxidase
The chemical combines with glucose in blood, isolating from the rest of the blood, then the meter measures how much glucose is present. Meters do this in different ways.
Some measure the amount of electricity that can pass through the sample, while others measure how much light reflects from it - both a measure of the amount of glucose present in the blood sample.
When a test strip is exposed to light or moisture, the chemical is altered, which impairs its ability to isolate the glucose in your blood. This will give you erroneous readings on your glucometer.
So, like the rest of your diabetes testing supplies, your test strips have a special function in promoting accurate blood glucose measurement and supporting effective management of your diabetes.
Most people do not choose their testing strips. Since glucometers come with specific diabetes testing strips, you may not actually have a choice of which testing strips to use.
However, as the glucose meters have gotten smaller and more compact, so have the testing strips. Some strips are as small as 1/4 inch wide by 1 inch long.
For persons with vision impairment (diabetic retinopathy) or nerve damage in the hands (peripheral neuropathy), handling such a small strip can be a insurmountable feat.
This should be part of the consideration when you are choosing your diabetic supplies. Though you cannot choose your strips, by themselves, you CAN choose your meter.
Meters have different types and sizes of testing strips. If you need to perform your own glucose testing, you may wish to consider the type of meter you select, based on the testing strips that come with it.
It will not matter how good the glucometer is, if you can't manage the strips in order to test your blood sugar.
Talk to your doctor about glucose meters, or with the company that provides your diabetic testing supplies, for assistance in choosing the right glucose meter - and testing strips - to meet your individual needs.
Whether you are new at blood sugar testing, or an experienced diabetic, handling diabetes testing strips can be challenging.
As the glucometers have gotten more sophisticated, and so it seems that the test strips have gotten smaller.
Here are a few tips for handling those small pesky strips:
1. Lie a white papertowel or facial tissue
on the counter or table where you are
going to be doing your testing.
- Gently shake a diabetes testing strip
out of the vial, onto the white paper.
Since the majority of testing strips are
darker in color, this allows you to see
2. Though you don't need to wear disposable
gloves when you are testing your own
blood, the latex or vinyl makes gripping
the test strip a little bit easier.
3. If you don't have fingernails to pick up the
testing strips, a pair of hemostats or
clampable tweezers can grab the strips
from the vial for direct insertion into
your glucose monitor.
As the strips and glucometers get smaller, the challenge in handling them becomes greater, especially with vision problems and neuropathy - serious complications of long term diabetes.
If you are unable to effectively manage your strips, talk to your doctor the challenges you are having with your diabetic supplies, and about switching to a meter with larger strips, rather than skipping your blood sugar testing.
In order to get accurate blood glucose results using your diabetes testing strips, you must ensure that the strips are coded to your glucose meter.
There are generally three ways to code your strips to your glucometer:
1. For some meters and testing strips, the vial comes with a code key that you insert into the meter. This key automatically codes to the meter to the strips you are using. When you start a new bottle of strips, you recode the machine using the new code key.
2. Some meters require that you manually change the code to match the number on the bottle of testing strips. For these meters, press and hold the "C" button until the correct number shows on the screen, then release the button. Your glucose meter is now coded for the bottle of strips you are using.
3. With some of the newer meters, the meter will code inself immediately upon insertion of a test strip. This eliminates the need for a code key or manual re-coding of your glucometer.
As with all of your diabetic testing supplies, using them properly will give the most accurate and reliable results.
If after coding your strips and performing controls, your blood sugar values continue to seem out of range or your meter indicates an error, follow the trouble-shooting tips in your meter manual. If you still experience problems, contact the company that provides your diabetis supplies.