Diabetes Test Strips

Test strips are used in blood glucose meters to test your blood glucose levels
Test strips are used in blood glucose meters to test your blood glucose levels

Blood glucose test strips (diabetes test strips) are a key component of blood glucose testing.

These small disposable strips of plastic may look insignificant but they provide a very important role in helping people with diabetes to monitor and control their diabetes.

In the vast majority of cases, each meter will take one type of test strip only. There are some blood glucose meters however that take blood ketone strips as well, to test for ketone levels.

How do diabetes test strips work?

When blood is placed onto the test strip, it reacts with a chemical called glucose oxidase producing gluconic acid from the glucose in the blood. At the other end of the test strip, the meter transfers a current to the test strip. The test strip has electric terminals which allow the meter to measure the current between the terminals.

The current between the terminals changes depending on the level of gluconic acid that has been produced. The blood glucose meter then uses an algorithm to work out the blood glucose level based upon the difference in current.

Some blood glucose test strips allow the reapplication of more blood to the same test strip if needed during the test. The amount of blood required by a test strip can vary between manufacturers. Generally, between 0.5 μl to 1 μl of blood is required.

Some test strips, not so commonly used these days, do not require a meter. When blood is placed on the active part of the strip and then wiped off after a specified number of seconds, the reagent will change colour and the result can be obtained by matching the colour of against a colour chart on the side of the pot.

It is less accurate than using a blood glucose meter but the test strips can often be cheaper.

Where can I get test strips?

Within the UK, blood glucose test strips are available either free on prescription or can be bought from pharmacies or online.

In the UK, all people with type 1 diabetes, or otherwise on insulin, should qualify for test strips free on prescription. People with other types of diabetes, or on other treatments, may also be given test strips on prescription but this will be judged on an individual basis.

Note that if you need to buy test strips for your diabetes, you should be exempt from paying VAT on these. Ask your pharmacy for a VAT exemption form. Test strips purchased from the Diabetes.co.uk Shop are eligible for VAT relief.

How long do blood glucose strips last for?

Blood glucose test strips will usually have a use by date on the strips or box they come in. After opening, blood glucose test strips will typically be good to use for another 3 to 6 months but refer to the box or information leaflet for advice specific to your brand of test strips.

If you have more than one box of test strips, it's a good idea to use the oldest one first, so they don't expire.

Manufacturer
Test Strip Name
Abbott
Abbott Optium Plus Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips with 1 calibrator.
For meters:
  • Optium
  • Optium Neo
  • Optium Easy
  • Optium Xceed
  • Boots meters
Abbott
Abbott Freestyle Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips.
For meters:
  • FreeStyle
  • FreeStyle Freedom
  • FreeStyle Mini
  • FreeStyle Navigator
  • InsuLinx
Accu Chek
For meters:
  • Accu-Chek Aviva
  • Accu-Chek Aviva Nano
  • Accu-Chek Aviva Combo
  • Accu-Chek Aviva Expert
Accu Chek
Accu-Chek Active Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips.
For meters:
  • Accu-Chek Active
Accu Chek
Accu-Chek Advantage Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips.
For meters:
  • Accu-Chek Advantage Plus
Accu Chek
Accu Chek Compact Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips.
For meters:
  • Accu-Chek Compact
  • Accu-Chek Compact Plus
AgaMatrix
AgaMatrix WaveSense Jazz Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 test strips.
For meters:
  • Wavesense Jazz
Bayer
Bayer Contour Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips.
For meters:
  • Bayer Contour USB
  • Bayer Contour
  • Bayer Contour Link
  • Bayer Didget
Bayer
Bayer Contour NEXT Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips.
For meters:
  • Bayer Contour NEXT USB
  • Bayer Contour XT
  • Bayer Contour NEXT
  • Bayer Contour NEXT Link
B Braun
B Braun Omnitest 3 Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips.
For meters:
  • B Braun Omnitest 3
Glucoflex
Glucoflex-R Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 strips.
No meter required.
GlucoRX
GlucoRx Test Strips
50 glucose test strips for use with the GlucoRx.
For meters:
  • GlucoRx
  • GlucoRx Nexus
  • GlucoRx Voice
IME-DC
IME-DC Test Strips
Comes as 2 pots of 25 strips.
For meters:
  • IME-DC blood glucose meter
Lifescan OneTouch
OneTouch Verio Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 test strips.
For meters:
  • OneTouch Verio IQ
  • OneTouch Verio
Menarini
Menarini GlucoMen Lx Sensor Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 test strips.
For meters:
  • GlucoMen Lx Plus
  • GlucoMen Lx
Menarini
Menarini GlucoMen Visio Sensor Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 test strips.
For meters:
  • GlucoMen Visio
Mylife mydiaberescare
MyLife Pura Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 test strips.
For meters:
  • MyLife Pura
  • MyLife Pura X
Nipro Diagnostics
Nipro Diagnostics TRUEresult Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 test strips.
For meters:
  • TRUEresult
  • TRUEresult twist
Nipro Diagnostics
Nipro Diagnostics TRUEone Test Strips
TRUEone test strips come with the meter.
For meters:
  • TRUEone
Home Diagnostics
Sanofi BGStar test strips
Comes in packs of 50 test strips.
For meters:
  • Sanofi iBG Star
  • Sanofi BG Star
Spirit Healthcare
Spirit CareSens N Blood Test Strips
Comes in packs of 50 test strips.
For meters:
  • CareSens N

Storage information of blood glucose test strips

The information below is generally applicable for most test strips, but refer to the information leaflet for specific advice on the test strips you use:

  • Store test strips at room temperature
  • Do not refrigerate, as extreme temperatures can seriously damage test strips
  • Exposure to humidity can render test strips unusable, and so can direct sunlight
  • Keep test strips within the closed (sealed) vial
  • Do not use test strips that have been in contact with dirt, crumbs, food or liquids
  • Do not use test strips if they have been damaged in any way

How accurate are blood glucose testing strips?

Blood glucose test strips should meet specific International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accuracy standards when used with the meter they are designed for.

Will test strips be needed in the future?

There are a number of blood glucose monitors under development that read blood glucose levels in non-invasive ways - that is, they don't require finger pricking.

Such developments being tested include testing tears via a special contact lens, testing saliva and using a rub on temporary tattoo.

Continuous glucose monitors are currently available which measure glucose levels without finger pricks, although blood glucose tests are still needed at times, such as for calibration and to check whether hypos may be occurring if you get the symptoms.