Take care of your test strips for accurate results
Test strips are one of the most important supplies in your medicine cabinet. Regular testing can help you keep track of your blood sugar levels, and that allows you to make lifestyle and medication adjustments accordingly. Proper handling and storage of test strips can help ensure an accurate result every time.
Six tips for handling test strips
When it's time to take a blood sugar reading, handle test strips properly for an accurate result. Here are six things to keep in mind when dealing with your test strips.
- Wash your hands. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before you open the test strip vial.
- Check the expiration date. Make sure the vial is not past its expiration date, and that the strips are clean and dry.
- Check the test strip code. If your strips must be coded, make sure the code on the meter matches the code on the vial.
- Handle carefully. Shake a test strip out into your hand. Try not to touch the end of the strip.
- Protect test strips from air. Immediately close the vial to protect the integrity of the remaining strips.
Make sure you have the proper amount of blood for a good reading. You only get one shot at this per strip, so make sure you have ample blood before applying the drop. Also, be sure to apply the blood correctly. Some test strips wick the blood drop at the side of the strip, while others do so at the very end of the strip.
Test strips that are sold in wheels or drums don't have to be handled individually. This can be an advantage for those with arthritis or other conditions that might affect dexterity. Follow the instructions very carefully to ensure that you have inserted the drum or wheel properly.
How to properly store test strips
Your test strips should remain in the vial or wrapping until you are ready to use one of them. Test strips are packed in containers with special linings that preserve and protect the strips. Keeping the vial closed means locking out moisture, debris and other elements that can affect the accuracy of the strips.
The accuracy can be compromised if the strips are exposed to extreme temperatures, direct sunlight or humidity changes. Keep them at room temperature at all times and avoid getting them wet. Use caution when using test strips that are close to or beyond their expiration date, as the results might not be accurate. Even with your best efforts, sometimes test strips can go bad. If you get strange readings, test the strips with the control solution, or toss the vial and open up a new one.
American Diabetes Association, "Blood Glucose Meters"
Joslin Diabetes Center, "5 Tips for Caring for Your Diabetes Supplies"
Mayo Clinic, "Blood Glucose Monitors: What Factors Affect Accuracy?"