What is a Blood Sugar Test Strip?

Bev Miller

A blood sugar test strip is one of the items that people who have type 2 diabetes need in order to self-monitor their blood sugar levels in order to manage and control his or her diabetic symptoms. The strip is disposable, and when blood is drawn onto the strip, a chemical on the strip reacts with the glucose, or sugar, in the blood. The blood sugar test strip is then inserted into the glucometer, which then calculates the sugar levels in the blood. The results typically are available on the meter display within a matter of seconds.

A blood sugar test strip is used to help monitor blood sugar levels for those suffering with type 2 diabetes.
A blood sugar test strip is used to help monitor blood sugar levels for those suffering with type 2 diabetes.

Some strips come with a special code that indicates the characteristics of that batch of strips. The strips can vary from batch to batch, and the code allows the glucometer to be calibrated to that batch. If the meter is not calibrated correctly, the results can be inaccurate. Some strips have the information encoded on the blood sugar test strip itself, so the user doesn't have to input the code.

The finger prick test allows a small blood sample to be analyzed using a blood sugar test strip.
The finger prick test allows a small blood sample to be analyzed using a blood sugar test strip.

Usually, self-monitoring tests are conducted before and after meals and at bedtime. The frequency of testing for each patient, however, is determined by his or her physician. Additionally, the criteria for unacceptably high or low blood sugar ranges for any individual would be discussed with a doctor as well, in order for the diabetic person to understand and appropriately act upon the results of the testing for blood sugar.

Blood sugar test strips often come included with the purchase of a blood sugar monitoring kit. The kit usually includes a lancet, a meter and the blood sugar test strips. If blood sugar test strips are purchased separately, they must be compatible with the exact blood sugar monitor being used in order to assure accuracy of the results. Other ways one can ensure the accuracy of a blood sugar test strip include using it before its expiration date; avoiding the storage of test strips where they might be subject to excessive heat or humidity or be exposed to air; and avoiding the loose storage of the strips unless they were foil-wrapped by the manufacturer.

Some meters will save the glucose level information in memory for reporting results to a doctor at a later time. Regardless of whether a meter saves the results, keeping a log of the results is important for managing blood glucose levels. It helps one understand how blood sugar levels are affected by physical activity, foods, medicine and time of day.

The meter is used to detect low blood glucose levels or high blood glucose levels for prompt attention and correction. For example, if blood glucose level readings are low, the diabetic person can immediately handle it by ingesting sugar items, such as drinking juice or pop and eating raisins, sugar, honey or maple syrup as directed by a physician. After waiting 15 minutes, the blood sugar test can be done again. If the blood glucose level readings are high, the diabetic can walk around for another 15 minutes before retesting. Testing the blood regularly with blood sugar test strips and a reliable meter is a vital part of avoiding complications and managing diabetes.

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Discussion Comments

@Pippinwhite -- Tell me about it. It's a racket. These companies know they've got us over a barrel, big time. It's not right.

Blood sugar test strips ought to be included in insurance, and not with a $30 copay either! We should be able to pay the generic copay, which on my insurance is $15. I could afford that.

At least the Wal-Mart people do have their own brand of meter and strips. They're better than nothing, and they're only $9.95 for 50 strips, which is a heck of a lot better than the going price for them. I've had to drop down to checking my sugar once a day because I can't afford the strips. God knows I pay enough for my insurance now, and I can't even get something I really need.

Someone is going to have to answer for their greed on judgment day.


These are the things that make testing blood sugar so darned expensive! I can get a meter for under $20 USD, but strips? Those doggone things are like $100 for 100 strips! They're unreal!

Insurance will cover them up to a certain point, but my copay on 100 strips is $30. Big deal. I can't even get the kind of strips I want, because my insurance only covers the most expensive kind, and only for 30 days at a time. That is such a ripoff.

I've called companies to get meters, and they usually send 10 strips at a time, which if I need strips, is better than nothing, but it's a major pain to get them at the pharmacy. Why not make it easier on us and either make reusable strips, or reduce the prices?

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