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How Do Blood Glucose Strips Work with Glucose Test Meters?

As we discussed in our most recent blog, testing for blood sugar used to be a much bigger deal that it is today. It used to be done by urinalysis, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as using a strip of paper like a blood glucose strip. In fact, testing for sugar in urine used to be done in a laboratory, and the chemicals used to be hot enough to burn the technicians! It doesn’t seem so bad when you have to buy diabetic test strips now, does it?

Since diabetes test strips are a part of your everyday life, you might wonder just what’s going on in there and how they work. While every test strip has to be used with it’s matching glucose test meter, they all work on pretty much the same principle. Let’s take a look at these amazing little things.

Aren’t They Just Simple Strips of Paper or Plastic?

Before you started using diabetic test strips, you might have thought that test strips were simply little pieces of paper. This might be because of the litmus strips that many of us used in science class back in high school in order to distinguish between acids and bases. Diabetic test strips are much more complex than those simple strips.

Another reason for the confusion comes from the history of blood glucose machines. Back in the 1980s, test strips were very different because they used a more complex light-based method to test blood. Not only did it take longer, but there was greater room for error and a lot more blood was needed.

The Complexity of Test Strips

The simple outside of a test strip betrays its complex interior. Each test strip is actually up to seven or more layers of plastics so that the blood gets exactly where it needs to be in the strip and is eventually read by the matching glucose test monitor.

The secret to diabetic test strips lies in electrochemistry. This is the science of turning chemical reactions into electrical information. The area at the end of the strips wick your blood away and combine it with a special combination of chemicals, including enzymes, that turn your blood sample into electricity. Each strip contains a thin layer of golden metal that has been cut into an intricate circuit, and the information that your blood/enzyme combination transfers to the circuit can be read by a blood glucose monitor. Because of electrochemistry, people are able to get more accurate readings than ever before.

What Can Go Wrong?

The most common thing that goes wrong with glucose test strips is user error. Sometimes a person doesn’t get enough blood on the strip or tries to use a strip that has been damaged in some way. Considering their complexity, you can see why it’s so important to use a fresh, undamaged strip.

Another problem that can occur is if the strips have been subjected to extreme heat or humidity. The enzymes in the strips are, in some ways, alive. If the strips get too hot or if they get wet and then dry out, the enzymes in them become useless.

We Have Your Diabetic Medical Supplies

When you have to use diabetic test strips every day, it can certainly feel like they’re too expensive. But when you understand the complex makeup of each strip, it’s a little easier to understand why they have to cost as much as they do. We’re your diabetic supply company that keeps our prices as low as possible.

At NYC Diabetes Supplies, we keep fresh diabetic test strips so that you’re much more likely to get an accurate reading every time. Click here to take a look at the glucose test strips we sell!