Surviving on one Test strip a day: fact or fiction


diabetes test strip Surviving on one Test strip a day: fact or fictionDo you think your diabetes self  management can survive on one test strip a day?

To many of us diabetic’s the very notion of  testing lessor and lessor is blasphemous. When the subject a rose a few months a go thanks to some new medicare guidelines on blood glucose testing,I couldn’t  help but interject on the discussion, of course it is insane to think that testing less is a good idea. Blood Glucose levels fluctuate every few minutes and not keeping up with them is not only dangerous but down right stupid for a diabetic.

Cost variables are always high on the totem pole however especially when one has to fork over the exorbitant  amount it requires to keep this critical component of diabetes management going on a monthly basis. It is no wonder that testing is always the first component of diabetes management that falls on the wayside when lack of funds becomes an issue.

Those little test strips average $.75 to $1 dollar each and the cost grows exponentially the more frequent you use them.

Which means Insurance providers in their quest to preserve their bottom lines have lobbied for the reduction of this cost and the result becomes  measures like the medicare guideline recommendations of  “one strip per day for diabetics on oral meds and three strips per day for those of us who shoot up”. Studies that recommended the need to eliminate daily blood glucose monitoring for those who had achieved a measure of control in their diabetes management and the use of A1C tests alone Have diabetics in an uproar.

You are probably scoffing at the Sheer lunacy of this kind of mentality and I probably do agree with you  but bear with me while I play devil’s advocate for a minute.

The goal for an effective diabetes management program is to maintain an even keel on daily  blood glucose levels and for this purpose we will limit carbs, inject Insulin and exercise. The extent of this exercise depends on how much control one has of said blood glucose levels and any adjustments are to the extent that it brings one closer to control.

Lets assume for the sake of argument that one has control of their diabetes management and has achieved the elusive under 6% a1c number, this person has a command of his diabetes management  program and  has achieved a state of nirvana in it. Aside from the occasional management of a low or spike the daily numbers are at an even level.

When this person  tests to get their fasting blood glucose number and uses that number as a barometer for the rest of the day, knowing exactly  how much the amount carbs they consume on that day will raise their BG’s and how much the combination of exercise and medication will get them back to the correct levels again.

This from a friend

“I find that the fasting blood glucose reading I take in the
morning as soon as I arise has become the key barometer which tells1 test strip Surviving on one Test strip a day: fact or fiction
me how well I’m managing my Type II diabetes, so I’ve stopped
testing throughout the day unless I feel a low coming on, in which
case I may check my glucose levels frequently until a reading above
80 is achieved. If I’ve behaved poorly the day before, my morning
fasting glucose is higher than goal. On the other hand, if I’ve
behaved well the entire day, my next morning fasting reading will
be at or near my daily fasting glucose goal of 100, assigned to me
by my endocrinologist.”

Could this person survive on one test strip a day?

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  1. I can do pretty well on one test strip a day BUT I have to be extremely strict in every imaginable way.

    I’d have to eat very very low carb meals, snack only when I feel low, drink only water, eat, sleep, exercise all at the same times each day and for the same duration. Sex with the hubby? That would have to be on a strict schedule, too. My kids wanting to go outside to play on a day or time outside of my schedule? No can do, sorry kids. I wouldn’t be allowed to have a menstrual period or a headache or a cold because that changes insulin needs. I would be leading a very limited life, which is why I’m so glad I get more than one strip a day.

    And for those who can’t feel their lows, well they’re in trouble for sure. Oh and children, who can’t always express their physical symptoms…

    Like you said, it’s “sheer lunacy”!

    Great post, Ronnie :)

  2. This is like my third time finding your homepage. I always like the content and the way you write. Very smooth and instructive at the same time.

  3. There is NO way I could survive on one test strip a day. Or even on three (because I use insulin). My BGs are just too variable for that. Even the idea of not testing at all for a week, and then testing 7 times in one day to see just how you fluctuate wouldn’t work for me, because I’m never the same from day to day.

    I know my control would go down the tubes if I were using even three strips a day, because my numbers are what motivate me on portion control in my eating. I am also very irregular in my schedule — a benefit of being retired! So I just plain wouldn’t know what was going on.

    Limiting test strips is penny-wise, pound-foolish, because control WILL deteriorate for many people, and the complications will set in, and treatment for complications is horribly expensive. I can’t believe how dumb and uneducated some of the people who make insurance decisions are!

  4. It’s ridiculous to think that a person can control their diabetes with one finger stick a day! I have Type 1 (juvenile) Diabetes. Controlling portions and the type of food we eat, along with exercise and medication only works TOWARDS keeping blood sugar levels within the 70-120 range. You absolutely cannot do that without regular blood glucose readings. I think 6 times a day is a minimum (but maybe that’s because I’m insulin defendant and am prone to low blood sugars) for effective blood sugar control. I’m going to research the medicare guidelines on glucose monitoring, because that recommendation is ridiculous!

    • Thanks Voleka for your insight… We as diabetic’s on the front lines believe this to be a known fact but we are not the decision makers and with powerful lobbying the insurance companies are influencing these ridiculous studies aimed at limiting test strip usage.

    • I’ve been using just one strip per day for the last few months and seem to be in excellent control. I lost my job and am very low on funds. I’ve had type 1 diabetes for about 10 years now and can tell if my bgs are too low or high. I do have to check after dinner, before bed, because waking up numb and delirious is not fun. I do eat pretty much the same meals for breakfast and lunch. This makes it much easier for me to know how much insulin to give myself. My dinner are always different, so I must check it after.

      • You’ll test more often after you end up in a diabetic coma as I did. I pray that does not happen to you but that’s where you’re headed without knowing your numbers. It’s no fun and very costly in the end…not only financially but physically as well as emotionally. Please try and test more. Best wishes to you.

  5. I am type I and test 8 times daily. My hba1c is 6.5, but would never be close if I could only test once a day. If I have a low, which happens every few weeks, I use 4 or 5 strips to check every 15 mins to make sure my sugar has stabilized, so I don’t bottom out again. I’ve gone into comas, have been temp. paralyzed and have been in ICU because of blood sugar. I don’t know why insurance would limit test strip coverage when the alternative is inpatient. Also, test strip mfgs need to make them affordable for those who have no coverage. It has come down to either paying the heat bill of buying testing supplies for many folks.


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