Test strips for blood sugar

Definition – What are blood glucose test strips?

Blood glucose test strips, in combination with a blood glucose meter, can be used to determine the sugar content in the blood. The test strips are used in hospitals and rescue services and as part of independent blood glucose monitoring 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 available?

Blood glucose meters are produced and distributed by most of the large pharmaceutical companies. Roche produces meters under the name “Akku-Chek”, Ascensia distributes its devices under the name “Contour”, Abbott’s devices are called “Freestyle” and at Braun the devices are called “Omnitest”. There are also other measuring devices from smaller companies, which may be cheaper.

The test strips are named after the devices and only fit the respective device. For some measuring devices there are test strips on the market that are not produced by the original companies, these 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. In this chamber there is an enzyme that chemically changes the sugar in the blood. This changes the current intensity of an applied electrical field.

By changing this current over time, the device calculates the sugar concentration in the blood sample. Test strips without a blood glucose meter are based on a color change of the test strips. In this type of test strips, too, an enzyme converts the glucose.

However, unlike device-bound test strips, this type of test strip does not measure the current intensity. Instead, 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 in this procedure. After a certain period of time, the blood must be wiped off and a further period of time waited until the result can be read. This type of blood glucose measurement is cheaper than measuring with a device, but is more suitable for people who only rarely need to measure their blood glucose 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 impairment of vision, otherwise the result cannot be read reliably. Originally, the Contour blood glucose meters were a brand of the Bayer company.

In 2016, following the acquisition of Bayer Diabetes Care by Panasonic Healthcare, 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 of the manufacturer. The special feature 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 glucose readings. Next article might also be interesting for you: How do I recognize diabetes?

Healthy people or people with mild diabetes are not able to detect sugar in their urine. This is because the kidneys reabsorb all sugar up to a certain blood sugar level. Only when the so-called kidney threshold is exceeded, which for glucose is between 150 and 200 mg/dl, is glucose detectable in the urine.

For a long time, urine sugar self-determination was the only way to determine whether or not hyperglycaemia was present. However, it is not possible to optimally adjust the blood sugar level by determining the sugar concentration in the urine. Urine glucose self-monitoring has therefore been almost completely replaced by blood glucose self-monitoring, as it can produce very accurate results in a very short time. Nowadays, mainly urine rapid tests (U-Stix) are used, which include several tests at the same time. In addition to the glucose, a test strip also shows whether blood or proteins are present in the urine, for example.If glucose is detected in urine with a rapid test, this can be the first indication of diabetes mellitus.