Control solution is an essential part of blood sugar testing and should be included in all blood sugar test kits.
In general, it’s a good idea to review the tools you need for blood sugar testing, whether you’ve been newly diagnosed with diabetes or have plenty of experience monitoring your blood sugar. Taking inventory of your blood sugar testing supplies and verifying they’re correctly working can help make blood sugar readings more efficient and accurate.
Most people are familiar with the process of finger pricks for blood sugar testing. Finger pricks are done with lancets. Blood sugar testing also involves glucometers and test strips. But how do you know all of those pieces of equipment are working the way they should?
Control solution for glucometers is designed to help you check the functionality of both your blood sugar test strips and glucose meter. Blood sugar testing supplies can be damaged by exposure to light, extreme temperature, humidity, moisture, and more, so it’s essential to check them from time to time. Using compromised equipment can result in inaccurate blood sugar readings, which won’t help you manage your health. In this article, we’ll explain what a control solution is, why it’s important, and how to use it.
What is Control Solution for a Glucose Meter?
Control solution is a pre-made sugar solution. It contains glucose in different concentrations, which are typically called Level 1, 2, or 3, and correlate to low, normal, and high blood sugar readings. The packaging of your test strips will tell you what the normal control solution range is for each type.
Since control solution contains a known amount of glucose, you know what the glucose reading should be on your glucose meter. Every time you use a control solution, you should get the same result.
Control solution doesn’t calibrate your glucose meter — that’s done during manufacturing — but it can give you peace of mind that your test strips and glucometer are in good working order. Chances are, if your glucose meter measures the correct amount of sugar in your control solution, it’s also measuring the amount of sugar in your blood the way it should.
Benefits of Using Control Solution
Control solution can be used for the following:
- To ensure each new package of test strips is functioning properly and hasn’t been damaged by exposure to light or temperature
- To troubleshoot problems with your glucose meter
- To practice using a glucose meter without having to prick your finger
- To double check the accuracy of too high or too low blood sugar reading
How to Use Control Solution for a Glucose Meter
It’s a good idea to use a control solution every time you open a new pack of test strips. Since test strips can be damaged in manufacturing or shipping, ensure each batch is good and ready for measuring your blood sugar.
Reach for a control solution if you’re noticing unusual fluctuations in your blood sugar readings. If your diet hasn’t changed and you’re not feeling symptoms of high or low blood sugar, unusual blood sugar readings may indicate something is off with your testing supplies.
Here’s the basic process of using a control solution for your glucometer:
- Read the instructions on your bottle of control solution. Take note of which level of control solution you’re using. You may need to shake the solution before use.
- Open the bottle and squeeze a drop onto a flat surface, such as a clean plate or the top of the control solution cap.
- Touch one test strip to the control solution and insert it into your glucose meter. Once you have the glucose reading, compare it to the glucose range for the type of control solution you’re using. This information is located on your bottle of test strips.
- You’re good to go if the glucose reading matches the control solution range. If the number is outside of the provided range, perform a second control solution test and contact your manufacturer for next steps.
These tips can help you make the most of your blood sugar testing supplies:
- Like test strips, your control solution needs to come from the same manufacturer as your glucometer. Brands are not universal or interchangeable.
- Storage instructions and the expiration date can be found on the control solution label. Most control solutions need to be stored at room temperature.
- Resist buying control solution in bulk since it carries an expiration date. Most control solutions are designed to last 90 days. Be sure to check the manufacturer label.
- Mark on a paper or digital calendar the expiration date of your control solution. This pro-tip will allow you to know when it’s time to replace the bottle. Using a control solution past its expiration date may produce inaccurate results.
Control solution is a useful tool in your blood sugar test kit. While it may be tempting to skip, the control solution helps you know the blood sugar readings you’re recording are close to accurate. Taking just a few minutes to check the reading of a drop of control solution ensures your glucose meter and each new package of test strips are working properly.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, a control solution is a convenient and painless way to practice using your blood sugar testing supplies. To further reduce the pain of finger pricks, check out the DigiVibe Complete Kit. It’s an affordable and compact device that’s easy to use and well-loved by both patients and doctors.