Blood Sugar Test Strips – Which Ones Are The Most Accurate?

Blood Sugar Test Strips

Shockingly, alarmingly and downright disturbingly, it’s been estimated that almost half of all blood sugar monitoring devices do not meet minimum standards for accuracy. For people that rely on these devices in order to regularly perform a blood sugar test, this truth is unsettling to say the least. A blood sugar test measures the amount of glucose in the blood, and the results of that test are used to gauge insulin dosages and plan meals and exercise as well. Accuracy is essential, especially for people who experience swings outside a normal fasting blood sugar level frequently, or those who regularly experience blood sugar levels that fall very low or rise very high. Although the monitoring device itself is important to consider in terms of accuracy, all too often the true source of accuracy issues, the blood sugar test strips the monitors use, is completely overlooked.

These small strips that are fed into or read by monitoring devices are treated with chemicals that react to glucose found in the blood. From the best blood sugar monitor on the market to tiny, portable bargain devices, blood sugar test strips provide the vehicle for transferring the blood sample to the device that will ultimately determine the amount of glucose it holds inside. It may seem trivial, but that tiny test strip can very easily mean the difference between an accurate reading and one that is off by as much as 20%. When using the results obtained from a meter with results that far from normal, insulin dosing can become hugely challenging and lead to errors that can be dangerous.

There are many factors that can negatively affect the accuracy of blood sugar test strips. The vast majority of these are related to the way in which most test strips are stored. Typically, the come in vials where many (often 50 strips) are stored together in a container with a reclosable lid. Many of them have expiration dates. This packaging may be convenient and allow for bulk purchasing of blood sugar test strips with ease, however they also subject the strips to varying temperatures, altitudes, and levels of humidity. All of these factors can lead to inaccurate reads of blood sugar levels high above what they really are, which can lead to improper treatment. These environmental effects leading to inaccurate readings of blood sugar levels high above true levels can be exacerbated over time, where some people have found that even non-expired strips became less accurate over the month they are indicated to be used for.

There are other factors that can change the accuracy level of blood sugar testing strips related to the user, and their ability to properly use their strips and meters properly. While user ease has been a selling point for many meters, it’s been estimated that some actually require more than fifty steps in order to actually use properly and obtain an accurate reading. Each one of these steps opens up opportunities for error and therefore an inaccurate representation of blood glucose levels. Not washing hands, not properly entering the codes on blood sugar test strips, testing before the alcohol used to sterilize the test site has dried, taking too much vitamin c, testing in the wrong location and not using enough blood can all provide inaccurate results.

There are some ways to counteract some of these problems. For instance, individually wrapped blood sugar test strips can eliminate a wide variety of environmental issues that can cause reading inaccuracies. Although more expensive, there is less waste and less chance of the strips becoming old, tainted or otherwise compromised. Further, meters that automatically code the strips being used can eliminate errors and mis-readings as well. These meters typically cost more than manual models, but may hugely outperform their less advanced counterparts.

Blood sugar test strips and the meters that read them are used in order to determine how far outside normal blood sugar levels a diabetic’s are. This information is critical because when readings come back outside acceptable blood sugar levels, insulin may be needed or other intervention measures to help bring them back to normal.

In more severe cases, signs of type 2 diabetes complications like hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia can also be identified by using a monitoring device and associated testing strips. When a person’s blood sugar becomes too high or too low, serious complications are possible. In the case of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, for instance, signs of type 2 diabetes complications that are ignored can lead to serious health risks including a diabetic coma.

There are so many reasons why accurate monitoring is critical for the proper care and management of diabetes. Unfortunately, manufacturers have made this important feature less important than portability or design in many cases. Therefore, it’s up to the consumer to ensure that their monitors and blood sugar test strips are as accurate as possible. This may have much less to do with brand than it does following directions. Proper storage and handling are essential to ensuring accuracy, as it making sure that all test strips used are not expired. Additionally, good hygiene including using alcohol at the test site and waiting until the skin is no longer damp as well as washing hands before testing are also essential and important steps. And, while perhaps more costly, eliminating environmental concerns by purchasing individually wrapped blood sugar test strips can reduce accuracy problems that are all too often out of the control of the consumer.