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Glucometers used at home have two essential parts: the device itself and the disposable strip. Quite often, when you buy a glucometer, you will receive a certain number of test strips along with the device. However, for continuous use of the equipment, one needs to purchase them separately.

One cannot buy just any kind of test strips. Each glucometer is made and calibrated to work with a specific type of strips only. Test strips from other glucometers or brands will not provide any results. Therefore, when you buy a glucometer, you should take the price of the strips into consideration. Over the long run, they may considerably increase the cost of diabetes management.

How do these strips work?

Glucometer test strips are chemically coated electronic devices. When you place a drop of blood on these strips, glucose in the blood reacts with glucose oxidase, thus producing gluconic acid. Glucometers measure the passage of the current through these strips. How much current passes through the strip depends on the amount of glucose in the blood and the amount of gluconic acid formed.

Once the blood glucometer has measured the amount of current passed through the strip, it uses a complex algorithm to calculate the amount of glucose present in the drop of blood.

Strips require a very small amount of blood to work. Most of the modern glucometer test strips need 0.5 microliters to 1 microliter of blood.

How long can I store blood test strips?

To begin with, the outside packaging of the strip mentions the shelf life of the unopened package, much like medications, which have an expiry date. However, in hot and humid countries like India, it’s important to note that this shelf life remains valid only if you store the strips below 30 degrees Celsius and away from sunlight.

Moreover, once you open the packaging, these strips will remain good for 3 to 6 months. A lot will depend on the manufacturer, and one may need to refer to the information in the leaflet.

Another important thing to know is the storage of test strips. Manufacturers recommend storing them in a clean and dry place. Since in some parts of India, room temperature and humidity may be quite high, the refrigerator could be an option. However, if the moisture level is not high, and the room temperature is below 30 degrees, then storing them outside the fridge is completely fine.

Finally, it is worth knowing that larger packs of strips are more economical. However, if you do not test glucose levels frequently, then buying larger packages does not make sense as the quality of strips deteriorates with storage.

Reviewed by Dr. Preet Pal Singh Bhinder