AskNadia: Leaving One Blood Glucose Strips Out to Test Later

Dear Nadia,

This might sound lazy but it gets tiresome to keep on going into a bottle of blood glucose test strips to pull just one strip out. Can I take several blood glucose strips out so that I can test immediately and leave one out for later?


Dear Edwin:

In a word, no. But in another word, maybe.
Test strips are manufactured and stored under ideal conditions, namely in a low-humidity, temperature-controlled environment protected from direct sunlight.

After manufacture they still require special handling when it comes temperatures. Too cold, such as in a refrigerator, and too hot, such as next to a heater or sunlit window ledge, will compromise strips’ ability to deliver accurate blood glucose readings.

Add to that the requirement to never handle strips with soiled hands or let alcohol or water come in contact with them.

Obviously, strips are more sensitive than their users might think.
In your situation, if I read your question correctly, you want to know if you can take out several strips at one time, use all of them except one, and then come back later to use the one you saved. I’m assuming that what you’re looking for is a way to avoid opening and closing a test strip bottle so many times during the day.

My advice is that if you are using several strips at almost the same time and setting aside one for later, it’s OK to withdraw them from their container all at once. As long as you put them on a sterile, dry, room-temperature, dust-free surface. away from bright light, and use them with clean hands, I don’t see a problem. At the same time, know that this can impact the accuracy of your blood glucose reading. The NIH reports test strips stored  in a closed vial are more accurate than test strips in open vials from 3 to 7 days, with refrigerated test strips offering the most stability for accuracy.

If you are a plane or in a car on a long trip, I can see why you’d want to avoid having to go into your overhead luggage, or reach back in a car, or even stop it, to find your meter and strips. If that’s the case, you might want to buy a compact diabetes travel kit that you can fit into a purse or overhead, or stash in the magazine/air sickness bag pocket behind the seat in front of you. The kit can store syringes, test strips, blood glucose meter, insulin, etc. You can pull out several strips beforehand and put them in the travel kit in a small, resalable plastic bag that’s easy to reach when you need them.

But keep in mind that one of the most germ-laden locations on a plane is that behind-the-seat pocket. You can use it, but make sure your travel kit is zipped tight and its contents do not come into contact with the pocket fabric or lining. Also, have alcohol wipes that you can use to clean your finger just before you take a blood glucose reading. Let the alcohol evaporate before you prick your finger.
If you’re at a hotel or resort, you can do the same thing. Be sure to place your unused test strips where maids will not assume that they are waste material for them to dispose.

Wishing you the best in health!



Effect of adverse storage conditions on performance of glucometer test strips


Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professional’s therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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AskNadia (ranked #1 by Google), named “Best Diabetes Blog for 2017 by Healthline and with 23 nominations, Nadia Al-Samarrie’s efforts have made her stand out as a pioneer and leading patient advocate in the diabetes community.

Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview, now Diabetes Health magazine.

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