If you have diabetes, you are probably familiar with the handy little strips you use to test your blood glucose levels. However, do you pay attention to their expiration dates and should you use expired strips?
First, you must know the material they are made of in order to understand their expiration. The strips are made of plastic but coated with the enzymes glucose dehydrogenase or glucose oxidase. They are proteins made by living organism cells which do break down over time.
The enzyme from the strip reacts with the blood’s glucose and converts it into an electrical current which enables the glucose meter to show the glucose concentration.
So, since strips have parts of living organisms, they do expire.
Even though there’s a scheduled expiration date on diabetes test strips, you should know the factors that affect it, which include:
If the expiration date says the strips will last until December 1st, does it mean they will give an accurate result the day before, and a wrong one the day after?
Well, the reality is there’s no such accuracy that can tell the exact day the strips will expire. In fact, most manufacturers set the bar a bit lower than the ‘real’ expiration date. They do this to protect themselves from unsatisfied and even harmed users.
Nevertheless, many tests on different diabetes test strips showed that there isn’t a big difference in the blood glucose reading when using a current or an expired strip.
Still, the results will depend on the brand, storage, as well as how long the strip was expired.
So, a strip expired for few days or months shouldn’t give the same results as one expired for few years.
The bottom line is you never know if an expired strip will give you a right or wrong result. And, a wrong glucose reading can lead people to make a bad decision which in some cases can have serious, life-threatening consequences.
Even though your test strips could have been stored properly and made out of high accurate enzymes, you can’t really know if they will give you an accurate reading.
Some experts say it’s fine to use them for a small period beyond their expiration date, but you must expect a possible inaccurate reading.
Still, we don’t recommend you to use expired diabetes test strips. On the contrary, using current strips will give you accurate blood glucose reading, thus contributing to a proper diabetes management.