Diabetic test strips for home blood sugar testing have come a long way. Here are five things you should know before you pick a glucose monitor.
Not too many years ago, home blood sugar monitoring meant testing urine for sugar content.
The monitors we use at home today are light years beyond that.
Better diabetes control has led to healthier diabetics with fewer complications.
We are living longer with type 2 because of diabetic test strips and the home monitoring systems.
But the market for diabetics is huge and changing fast.
So before you pick the monitor you will be using every day for many years, here is a five point checklist based on my adventures in the world of type 2 diabetes.
When looking for a good glucose monitor, you have to look at the test strips too.
Even if you find a free meter, the diabetic test strips will be a monthly expense forever after.
You can only use the test strips made specifically for the brand and type of monitor you own.
Medicare and Medicaid do pay for monitors and test strips, which are called durable medical equipment. (DME)
That separates them from your medications (like insulin and needles). Most insurance covers medications and DMEs separately.
If you must buy diabetic test strips yourself, shop around. Pharmacies have the highest prices.
Visit amazon.com to compare costs with the ones you find at a discount store like Walmart. Amazon prices can be half as much as store costs for the same test strips.
Most stores also have websites where you can check prices. That will help you decide on your best glucose monitor.
Some diabetic test strips are harder to find than others. Pick the meter that has strips you can find easily.
Do that before you choose a monitor.
Buying online is tricky. Read the small print because shipping may be added on later. Often the lower priced items do this.
Look for free shipping, and you usually save more at checkout time.
Your meter readings are useless if your test strips are out of date.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. Otherwise they might go out of date. '
It is easy to ignore little details like that if you do not watch out.
Type 2 diabetics may only use diabetic test strips once a day. So watch your expiration dates closely.
Do not buy too many at one time and use the oldest first. If they go out of date, throw them away.
Many diabetic meters need to be coded for each new batch or vial of test strips.
The newer monitors do not need to be coded, so look for the words "no coding" when shopping for a new glucose meter.
Getting a monitor that does not need to be coded gives you 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.
Skip this step with a new vial of diabetic test strips and your blood sugar readings will not be accurate.
Moisture, humidity and heat will make test 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 will not be accurate anymore.
Wash your hands before you touch them, and make sure alcohol does not get on them either.
Alcohol will contaminate the test strip but so will dust and dirt.
Clean hands that are not wet from water or alcohol are all that should ever touch test strips.
Single test strips need to be pushed in all the way, but bent strips are useless. That can be a problem.
Putting them in upside down happens a lot, and it is easy to drop the tiny things.
Then you must add the right amount of blood. Too little? You get a bad reading or none at all. Too much? You may get an error message or ruin the meter.
If you have trouble using test strips, ask the nurse at your doctor's office to show you ways around your problems.
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.
If you keep the vial and meter on a clean surface, dropped strips will not end up in the trash.
I have found the Bayer discs much easier to use than single diabetic test strips.
But those discs must be set into the monitor just right or they will not work.
Use your diabetic test strips at least once a day to achieve better control of your blood sugar.
It will improve every diabetes complication even if you are controlling type 2 with diet and exercise.
Continuous glucose monitors are available and getting better. Monitors that do not use blood to read your glucose numbers are coming.
But most of us still have to use diabetic test strips for now. I encourage you to test your blood sugar. It will improve your health.
Here are more medical supplies you can learn about:Diabetic jewelry is more than just a good idea.