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Can I Use Diabetes Test Strips That Are Past Their Expiry Date?

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Last Updated on January 22, 2020

Most sugar test strips tend to be expensive, ranging all the way to over $2 per piece. When you consider that most strips come in a pack of 50, that’s a sizeable amount you need to shell out. Most people try to extract every piece of value they can from their test strips. As a result, you may find yourself frustrated if the strips go beyond the expiration date without you having utilized them. Many people throw them in the garbage because they believe that there is no further use to them. However, some people prefer to keep using them or even sell test strips for cash. There are ardent supporters on both sides of the issue. So, what do the experts say?

Most sugar test strips tend to be expensive, ranging all the way to over $2 per piece. When you consider that most strips come in a pack of 50, that’s a sizeable amount you need to shell out. Most people try to extract every piece of value they can from their test strips. As a result, you may find yourself frustrated if the strips go beyond the expiration date without you having utilized them. Many people throw them in the garbage because they believe that there is no further use to them. However, some people prefer to keep using them or even sell test strips for cash. There are ardent supporters on both sides of the issue. So, what do the experts say?

Before we see that, let’s take a look at how the inner workings of these test strips – 

Firstly, you must understand how these strips work. To simplify it, it works something like this – there is a component that moves the blood into a window present on the blood strip. Glucose strips have a mediator and an enzyme as well. The latter gets attached to the sugar in the blood and then attracts sugar electrons. The strip’s mediator passes it through its circuit for giving you a reading.

This enzyme, however, is a biological substance. As a result, it will break down one day. And when that happens, it won’t be capable of pulling sugar electrons from the blood. However, you might be wondering about the exact point at which this breakdown takes place.

Can Diabetic Test Strips Expire?

Well, yes. However, it is somewhat of a complicated matter. While companies place the expiration date on the packs for a purpose, they are not always entirely accurate. It is not that the strip becomes completely useless after the day after the expiry date. That is dependent on what brand of diabetic test strips you use. Since each brand utilizes different enzymes, the exact expiry date tends to vary between different brands.

There are no hard & fast rules with regards to this.

Certain studies suggest that it is possible to utilize an expired test strip for a period of more than 1 year, sometimes 2 years, from the date of expiration. While the exact timeframe is debatable, all experts agree that you have some wiggle room in this department. Therefore, there’s no need to be hasty and distressed about your test strips becoming entirely useless after the expiry date. However, this could confuse you a bit. You might be wondering whether the company is actually out to scare you into purchasing additional products that you don’t really need.

Why Do Companies Set These Expiration Dates Then?

While people may feel that these expiration dates aren’t useful at all except for helping the company make some extra bucks, that’s not the case. Although companies are mostly motivated by profit, there is also another facet to this.

Pharma companies happen to be legally bound to always be prudent in setting their product’s expiration date. All that’s needed is a single faulty strip for landing them in hot soup. They push their expiration dates ahead in order to protect themselves from annoying lawsuits that could cost them millions. While companies do profit from setting these expiration dates in such a manner, not every reason is a selfish one. They need to ensure that their products are not faulty or defective due to the sensitive and important nature of their function. 

Are There Any Risks to Using Expired Test Strips?

What’s the risk in using an expired diabetic strip then? Well, your readings could be inaccurate and outright wrong. When the enzymes in the diabetes strip start breaking down, they won’t be able to function properly anymore. Therefore, they won’t be capable of pulling sugar electrons from the blood for obtaining your glucose readings. In case your readings are inaccurate to a large extent, you may wind up in a considerable amount of hot soup.

Therefore, it is always recommended that you not use expired diabetes test strips. Although you could use them if you have no choice or if it has only been a few days since the expiry date, there are still a lot of things that could go wrong. Your health isn’t something to be trifled with, as that could have a number of wide-ranging consequences. While using expired test strips can save you a few bucks, any negative consequences could land you in the hospital and eradicate your finances, which is worth considering.