Testing: How Accurate Are Diabetes Test Strips?

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By : dLife Editors

It’s important to monitor your blood glucose level in order for you to control it.  And that’s why diabetes test strips play an important role.

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Blood glucose test strips are small disposable plastic strips which, although may appear insignificant, play a very significant role when it comes to helping people living with diabetes to appropriately monitor and control the condition.

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Trying to save money by skipping a blood test is like trying to cut corners. Uncontrolled blood sugar could lead to complications that will require more expensive treatments and medications in the long run.

However, the question is, “how accurate are test strips?”  Even though blood diabetes test strips may not always be accurate, they are still very close to being accurate and are better off than not keeping an eye on your blood sugar at all.

How do Test Strips Work?

Test strips work by placing blood on the strip.  The blood reacts with an enzyme on the strip called glucose oxidase to produce gluconic acid using glucose in the blood. At the other end of the strip, which is connected to the glucometer, the meter sends a current to the strip. With the electric terminals on the strip, the meter will be able to measure the current between the terminals.

The amount of gluconic acid produced from the blood glucose determines the amount of current produced between the terminals. The meter then makes use of an algorithm to calculate the blood glucose level based on the difference in current.

However, even as the manufacturers of these strips strive to make sure they are as accurate as much as possible, there is always a margin of error.

This is the unfortunate trade-off that comes with having equipment that is both easy to use and small. Even though there is a margin of error that could make test strips almost accurate, there could also be some factors that may play a role in the accuracy of the strips.

Factors that Affect Accuracy

1. Quality of the brand

2. Storage methods of the strips

3. Temperature and humidity

4. The way patients use them

5. Expired test strips will definitely not give an accurate result

6. Using a different brand than the brand of glucometer

7. Test strips that are not properly inserted into the meter

8. Insufficient blood put on the strip

Where to Buy Test Strips

Purchasing test strips are more difficult than it seems. That is, even as it seems very common to get test strips up for sale, care must be taken to ensure what one is going for a quality product.

Test strips are available in medical stores and even at online retailers such as  eBay.com, Walmart.com, Amazon.com, and Walgreens.com.  They are easily available at medical stores and pharmacies as well.

Be that as it may, patients are cautioned to be careful about where test strips are purchased, especially when purchased online from supply resellers.

Test strips produce inaccurate results when they are expired, exposed to heat, used on a meter beside the one it was made for thus precaution must be taken in purchasing any. Test strips are not cheap, for this reason, most low-quality ones thrive more in sales and then posing its harms.

For some countries including the United States, the best and easiest way to purchase test strips is through Medicare or private medical insurance.  Be sure to consult your doctor for recommendations on brands and where to make your purchase.

 

Sources:

1. “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke,” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).  Retrieved: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke

2. “Glucose oxidase An overview” Science Direct.  Retrieved: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0734975009000536

3.  “Find a Supplier,” Medicare.gov.  Retrieved: http://www.medicare.gov/supplier

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