Q: My meter says I should use control solution when I open a new bottle of test strips. What is this, where do I get it, how much does it cost, and do I really need to use it?
A: Control solution ($4-$11) is a glucose liquid used to run a test to make sure your meter and strips are working properly. The result should be within the control range listed on the strip packaging.
If it is in range, use the rest of the strips in the container with confidence that they are not tainted and the meter is working correctly. If the result is outside the control range, repeat the control test on another strip. If that result is outside the control range, the strips are not reliable enough to use.
Manufacturers suggest using control solution each time you start a new container of strips. To save money, some people use control solution only if they suspect strips are bad. Control solution may be available at your pharmacy, or you can ask the pharmacist to order it for you. Or order it online directly from the manufacturer. An open vial of control solution is good for about 90 days, so write the date you opened it on the vial.
Control Solution Tip: Always shake the control solution to mix it before running a test. Otherwise, the solution may be too concentrated or too diluted, which can affect the accuracy of the test.
Virginia Zamudio Lange, R.N., M.S.N., CDE, is a registered nurse, certified diabetes educator, and a past president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.