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Glucometers used at home have two essential parts, that is the device itself, and the disposable strip. Quite often, when you buy a glucometer, you will get a certain number of test strips along with the device. However, for continuous use of the equipment one needs to buy 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 buying a glucometer, the price of the strips should be taken 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 blood reacts with glucose oxidase thus producing gluconic acid. Glucometers measure the passage of the current through these strips. How much current will pass 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 shelf life of the unopened package will be mentioned on the outside packing of the strip, quite like medications they have an expiry date. However, in hot and humid countries like India, it is worth knowing that this shelf life is valid only when strips are stored below 30 degrees Celsius and away from sunlight.

Moreover, once the packing has been opened, these strips will be good for 3 to 6 months, lots will depend on the manufacturer, and one may need to go through the information in the leaflet.

Another important thing is to know about 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 room temperature is below 30 degrees then storing outside the fridge is completely good.

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 do not make sense as the quality of strips deteriorates with storage.