Living with diabetes blog

Diabetes: When to use a blood glucose control solution

By Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. and Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. May 17, 2014

I recently attended a diabetes technology conference. A speaker at the conference spent a significant amount of time during her presentation talking about using blood glucose control solution at home to check the accuracy of your test strips and meter.

To be honest, I often gloss over the subject of blood glucose control solution with my patients. My reasons for this include that blood glucose meter kits often don't contain the control solution, pharmacies frequently don’t carry control solution or only carry the control solution for one meter brand, the solution costs extra and requires using a test strip, and the solution has an expiration date and needs frequent replacement. Using blood glucose control solution can also be a confusing concept to teach and is yet another task for a person to remember when managing his or her diabetes.

For those of you who may not know what blood glucose control solution is and what it's for, here's a quick rundown. The control solution is a liquid that comes in a small vial and contains a known amount of glucose. The glucose solution is used in place of a drop of blood and the results on the meter should match a range listed on the vial of test strips used with the meter.  If the result is outside of the range listed on the test strip vial, this indicates a problem with either the meter or the test strips.

What should you do if a glucose control test is out of range?

  • Check the expiration date on your test strips. If they've expired, this could result in false high or low blood glucose readings. Replace the test strips immediately with new, unexpired test strips.
  • Check the expiration date on the blood glucose control solution. Each meter company has a different replacement time for control solution, whether that's after 3 months, 6 months or 12 months.
  • Consider storage conditions. If the test strips haven't expired, consider whether the test strips might have been exposed to extreme heat, cold, light or moisture. Did you leave the cap off the test strips, exposing them to light or moisture? For example, a steamy bathroom is probably not the best place to keep your meter and test strip supplies.
  • Did you recently drop the meter?

Contact the meter company if there doesn't seem to be any explanation for the glucose control test to be out of range. It could be a meter problem, and you may need to replace your meter.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends using a blood glucose control solution:

  • When you open a new container of test strips
  • Periodically, as you use the container of test strips
  • Whenever you get unusual results
  • If you drop or damage the meter

When you use glucose control solution, shake the bottle of glucose solution beforehand, always ensure the cap is tight, and write the discard date on the vial when you first open it.

One example of how testing with glucose control solution could have been helpful involves an individual I know. She was increasing her insulin for high blood glucose readings and at the same time experiencing low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) symptoms. Her blood glucose readings at the time were running in the 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) range and higher. What we discovered was that her blood glucose test strips had expired. When she replaced the test strips, her blood glucose readings were actually 100 to 200 mg/dL (5.6-11.1 mmol/dL) lower!

What are your thoughts or comments?



May 17, 2014