Test strips for blood sugar

Definition - What are blood sugar test strips?

With blood glucose test strips, in combination with a blood glucose meter, you can determine the amount of sugar in your blood. The test strips are used in hospitals and ambulance services and as part of the independent control of blood sugar in patients with diabetes mellitus. The test strips can be used to determine whether there is hypoglycaemia or whether the sugar level in the blood is too high.

What tests are there?

Blood glucose meters are manufactured and sold by most of the major pharmaceutical companies. The company Roche produces measuring devices with the name "Akku-Chek", Ascensia sells its devices under the name "Contour", the devices from Abbott are called "Freestyle" and at the company Braun the devices are called "Omnitest".
There are also other measuring devices from smaller companies that may be cheaper. The test strips are named after the devices and only fit the device in question. For some measuring devices there are test strips on the market that are not produced by the original companies; they may be considerably cheaper.

In principle, all test strips work on a similar principle. In the test strip there is a small measuring chamber into which the applied blood is sucked. This chamber contains an enzyme that chemically changes the sugar in the blood. This changes the current strength of an applied electric field. The device then calculates the sugar concentration in the blood sample from the change in this current strength over time.

Test strips without a blood glucose meter

Test strips without a blood glucose meter are based on a color change in the test strips. In this type of test strip, too, an enzyme converts the glucose. In contrast to device-bound test strips, however, it is not the current strength that is measured here, but rather an indicator, which is located on the test field in addition to the enzymes, changes color depending on the sugar concentration.

A visual comparison scale can then be used to determine the area in which the blood sugar level is located. In principle, blood must also be applied to a test field with this method. After a certain period of time, the blood must be wiped off and an additional period of time must be waited before the result can be read. This type of blood sugar measurement is cheaper than measuring with a device, but is more suitable for people who rarely need to measure blood sugar or as a replacement if the blood glucose meter does not work. The measurement with this method takes about 1 minute, while modern blood glucose meters calculate the blood glucose value in a few seconds. In addition, there must be no visual impairment, as otherwise the result cannot be read reliably.

Contour next

The Contour blood glucose meters were originally a brand of Bayer. In 2016, after Panasonic Healthcare took over Bayer Diabetes Care, the independent company Ascensia Diabetes Care was founded, which now owns the Contour trademark rights.

The Contour next test strips are suitable for all devices from the manufacturer. The specialty of the Contour next devices is the good connection to PCs or smartphones. The devices can either be connected directly to a computer like a USB stick or connected to a smartphone or computer via a wireless connection.With the help of a smartphone app, the user can visualize his blood sugar readings.

The next article could also be of interest to you: How do I recognize diabetes?

Blood sugar test for urine

No sugar is detectable in the urine of healthy people or people who have mild diabetes. This is because the kidneys reabsorb all sugar up to a certain blood sugar level. Glucose can only be detected in the urine when the so-called kidney threshold is exceeded, which for glucose is between 150 and 200 mg / dl.

For a long time, self-determination of the urine sugar was the only way to determine whether there was excess sugar or not. However, it is not possible to optimally adjust the blood sugar by determining the sugar concentration in the urine. The urine sugar self-determination has therefore been almost completely replaced by the blood sugar self-measurement, as it can produce very precise results in a very short time.

Nowadays, rapid urine tests (U-Stix) are mainly used, which contain several tests at the same time. In addition to the glucose, a test strip also shows whether e.g. There is blood or protein in the urine. If glucose is detected in the urine with a rapid test, this can be the first indication of diabetes mellitus.

How do you use a blood sugar test strip correctly?

Carrying out the blood sugar measurement is very easy with modern devices. In the home environment, a drop of blood is usually obtained from the fingertip for the measurement.

  • To do this, the fingertip must first be cleaned and disinfected with an alcohol swab. Then a small prick is placed on the side of the fingertip with a disposable lancing device. At the beginning, this can take a lot of effort, but newer lancing devices are hardly painful and well tolerated.
  • By carefully stroking your finger, a drop of blood collects on the wound. The first drop should be wiped off with a swab and discarded. After wiping out again, the test strip, which has already been introduced into the blood glucose meter, is held with the measuring chamber on the blood drop. A little blood is immediately sucked into the test strip and the measurement begins.
  • After a few seconds, depending on the manufacturer, the blood sugar concentration is shown on the device display. The finger is cleaned with a clean swab, a plaster is applied if necessary and the test strip is discarded.

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What do test strips for blood sugar cost?

The prices vary depending on the manufacturer and pack size. The prices per test strip are between 25 and 55 cents. Larger packs bring significant savings and are particularly suitable for diabetics who have to closely monitor their blood sugar.
The price differences do not change the accuracy of the measurement results. According to an ISO standard, the measurement results must not exceed a certain deviation from the real value. Which device and which matching test strips are used therefore primarily depends on personal preferences. Many manufacturers offer their devices for testing, so you can compare and ultimately buy the device that works best with you.

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Does the health insurance pay for that?

The statutory health insurance associations determine the extent to which test strips can be prescribed to patients.
In principle, type 1 diabetics and women who develop diabetes during pregnancy can be prescribed test strips as needed.

Type 2 diabetics who are not treated with insulin cannot be prescribed test strips, except in exceptional situations. Basically, prescribed test strips are exempt from the statutory additional payment and are therefore paid for in full by the health insurance company. However, if diabetes is not diagnosed, the test strips have to be paid for yourself.

Who must / should measure?

By far the largest group of people who have to or should have their blood sugar measured regularly are diabetics. Patients who inject insulin need to monitor their blood sugar very closely to prevent overdosing or underdosing of insulin. Even with type 2 diabetics who are only treated with oral anti-diabetic drugs, it makes sense to check the blood sugar level in order to determine if the blood sugar is incorrectly adjusted.

Even with general illnesses, such as flu-like infections, the blood sugar should be measured more closely, since in the event of illness it is easier for the blood sugar to derail.