Diabetic test strips have come a long way since the urine tests diabetics used to rely on for home testing. And there are some things you really should know before you decide which glucose monitor to buy. When you get them home, it’s important to treat them right so they will give you accurate readings. Here’s a list of five things that will help you choose and use your diabetic test strips.
Number One – What Will They Cost
Looking for a good glucose monitor is only half of the research you need to do before you settle on the meter that fits your needs. Even if you find a free monitor, it is a one-time purchase, but the diabetic test strips will be a monthly expense for as long as you have that brand of monitor.
Medicare and Medicaid will pay for your monitor and test strips because they are considered durable medical equipment. That separates them from your prescription needs (like insulin and needles). Make sure yours are covered, and you can pick from the choices available from your DME provider.
But if you are buying the strips yourself it’s good to know where you can get them for the lowest possible price. Go to Amazon.com and compare their prices on diabetic test strips with the ones you’ll find at a discount store. The Amazon prices are generally half as much as store costs for the same brands.
By the way, it’s simple to check prices at stores that have a website. That kind of knowledge arms you with the information you need to pick the best diabetic test strips as well as the best glucose monitor. It also helps you decide where to get them. Remember to read the small print when you buy online, because shipping prices will often add a lot to the price.
Number Two – Check the Expiration Date
Your meter readings can be made useless if your test strips are out of date. Always check the dates when you receive them in the mail or buy them at the store. Expiration dates are printed clearly on every vial and disc. Send them back if they are old.
Make sure to use up your old strips first when you get a new batch so you don’t accidentally save some until they are out of date. It’s common sense, but it’s easy to ignore little details like that when you’re in a hurry or distracted.
If you’re a type 2 diabetic who only tests once a day, and you buy in bulk, watch your expiration dates closely. Buy the strips that have the date farthest away so you won’t have to worry about it.
Number Three – Don’t Forget Coding
A lot of diabetic meters need to be coded for each new batch or vial. Many newer monitors don’t need to be coded, so if you like that, look for the words “no coding” when you’re shopping for a new glucose meter. Getting a monitor that does not need to be coded means one less thing to remember.
If your monitor needs coding, a number shows up every time you put a test strip into it. Make sure that number matches the one on your vial or package. Skipping this step when you open a new vial of test strips will make your blood sugar readings unreliable.
Number Four – Protect Your Diabetic Test Strips
Moisture, humidity and heat will make the strips unusable. They come to you in sealed vials or packs, and you can store them the same way. Never leave them open to the air. Also, store them at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. If they are kept too cold or too near a heat source they won’t be accurate anymore.
Wash your hands before you touch them, and make sure alcohol doesn’t get on them either. Alcohol will contaminate the test strip, and so will dust and dirt. Clean hands that are not wet from water or alcohol are all that should ever touch them.
Number Five – Know How to Use Your Diabetic Test Strips
Test strip discs need to be seated in the monitor correctly or they won’t work. And single strips need to be inserted all the way before they will turn on the meter. Bent strips are useless. And add the amount of blood that’s needed. Too little and the test will not run. Get too much blood smeared on the strip and it will give you an error message.
If you have trouble using your test strips, ask the nurse at your doctor’s office to demonstrate ways around your difficulties. They deal with diabetic testing all the time, and they know what they’re doing.
Type 2 diabetic symptoms like peripheral neuropathy can make working with test strips harder because you’ve lost sensitivity in your fingertips. Keep the vial and meter on a clean surface so if you drop the strips you won’t have to throw them away.
Speaking of type 2 diabetic symptoms, if you use your test strips more than once a day, you’ll likely have better control of your blood sugar, and that leads to better outcomes with all diabetes complications.
Continuous glucose monitors have not yet been perfected. And those monitors that don’t need a drop of blood to read your glucose numbers are not available to us yet. So you have to use test strips. Take good care of them, and take good care of your health.