Glucose Control Solution: Why It’s Important & How To Use It
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Table of Contents
Glucose Control Solution: What Is It?
Glucose control solution is a liquid that combines water, glucose, and two key elements called buffers and microbicides.
The point of creating a glucose control solution is to help you check that your test strips and blood glucose meter are functioning correctly.
Glucose control solution is designed to mimic the physiological environment of your blood, and contains a known glucose concentration.
Testing your blood glucose meter using this solution helps your ensure that your devices are calibrated properly to give you accurate data.
Do You Need Control Solution For Your Glucose Monitor?
In short, yes. Think about using a control solution as the crucial step to calibrating your test strips or blood glucose monitoring device, by using a test sample with a known amount of glucose as a benchmark.
You wouldn’t want to set out for a long trip in a car without knowing that your fuel gage worked, right? It’s the same with a blood glucose monitoring device. You want to make sure that the numbers you’re getting on your blood glucose meter are accurate.
In fact, most research points to the use of glucose control solution as an easy, but underutilized way to get better control of your blood glucose.
This isn’t actually the fault of most consumers though. One study found that pharmacists and diabetes care providers often neglected to recommend or stock glucose control solution, so there is room to grow here across the board.
In short, even though testing your device or test strips using glucose control solutions can seem like a bit of a hassle — especially if you’re following the food and drug administration (FDA)’s recommendations for testing — this process is a crucial part of accuratet measuring your blood glucose.
When Should You Test Your Test Strips?
The FDA and most diabetes care experts recommend using glucose control solution as a baseline in a few different situations:
- Any time you open up a new vial of test strips. This helps ensure that the strips in the new vial are properly calibrated
- The first time you measure your blood glucose with a new meter. This makes sure that the new device is working properly
- Any time you drop a monitoring device. This can help make sure that the device isn’t damaged and is still accurate
- Any time you get a drastically different or very unexpected result. Sometimes devices malfunction, and checking your device can make sure that you’re planning appropriately.
How To Use Glucose Control Solution
Using glucose control solution is simple, which is why it can be such an easy way to ensure you have accurate control of your blood glucose.
Step 1: Insert a new testing strip into your blood glucose meter, and check that the device is powered on, functioning, and ready for a blood glucose test.
Step 2: Shake the bottle of glucose control solution well
Step 3: Squeeze out the first drop from the glucose control solution bottle and discard it. Then wipe off the tip of the bottle to make sure it’s clean.
Step 4: Dispense the second drop of control solution onto a hard, clean surface, then bring the test strip up to the droplet until you’ve collected enough solution. This should be almost the exact same process as using a lancet and collecting a drop of blood for a blood glucose test.
Step 5: Check the test results on your meter or monitoring device, just like you would with a blood sample. The bottle of glucose control solution should provide a range of ‘acceptable’ values that should come up.
Note: If the results of the control solution test are outside of the range expected, we recommend repeating the first 5 steps once more. If the results are inaccurate again, it’s worth looking into a new pack of testing strips, or a new monitoring device.
Step 6: Dispose of any used test strips and store the glucose solution in a safe place at room temperature.
Understanding Your Control Solution Results
As we mentioned above, any glucose control solution will have an ‘acceptable range’ of values that should show up when it’s tested.
If your glucose control solution result is not within this acceptable range, we recommend taking the time to go through a second test. There can be any number of reasons for unusual results, like grime on the bottle, or an insufficient amount of solution.
However, if these results repeat, it’s worth looking into replacing your meter or glucose monitoring device.
Where To Buy Control Solution For Glucose Monitor
You can find glucose control solution at almost any pharmacy where you can find diabetes-related products and devices, and many lancing device and glucose meter producers actually include testing supplies in any new kit.
However, if you can’t find a glucose control solution for your blood glucose monitor, it’s always possible to find these testing supplies online.
Accu-chek Aviva, Bayer Contour, Freestyle Regular, Prodigy AutoCode, and many other top brands are all available to purchase online.
The Alternative: Homemade Glucose Control Solution
There are a number of different sources that explain how to prepare your own glucose solution at home, and at a fundamental level the science behind creating a glucose control solution is simple.
However, we don’t recommend making your own homemade glucose control solution due to the many opportunities for contamination, inaccurate measurements, or mistakes in the preparation process.
Remember, your goal for a glucose control solution is make sure that your device is functioning as accurately as possible.
In our opinion, this particular aspect of your blood glucose health is best left to the experts.
Glucose Control Solution Expiration
A glucose control solution has two expiration dates. The first is the “closed bottle” expiration date, which is the last day by which you should open your glucose solution.
The second is the “open bottle” expiration date, which is three months after you first open the bottle.
It’s important to make sure that your glucose control solution isn’t expired, as after the expiration date its strength can change.
This will skew the calibration results, which would be counterproductive to the whole point of using a glucose control solution.
The Final Word on Glucose Control Solution
In summary, even though it might seem like a hassle, the benefits of testing your glucose control strips and devices can be the difference between great glucose control and a string of glucose difficulties.
Amla Green has strict guidelines for scientific references in our articles, and we rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, governmental organizations, and reputable medical organizations. We do our best to avoid using non evidence-based references in all articles. The references in this article are listed below.
“Heinemann, Lutz. “Control Solutions for Blood Glucose Meters.” Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology 9, no. 4 (May 22, 2015): 723–24.” ”https://doi.org/10.1177/1932296815587602"
“How to Prepare a Glucose Solution | Sciencing.” ”https://sciencing.com/prepare-glucose-solution-6966226.html"
“Johnson, Jeremy L., Katherine S. O’Neal, Christopher C. Pack, and Sandra M. Carter. “Barriers to Patient Use of Control Solution for Glucose Meters: Surveys of Patients, Pharmacists, and Providers in a Metropolitan Area.” Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology 11, no. 3 (May 2017): 553–57.” ”https://doi.org/10.1177/1932296816678427"
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, is a cofounder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. Using an evidence-based approach to nutrition and fitness, he first reduced his own insulin usage by more than 40%, and has educated thousands of people with all forms of diabetes how to reverse insulin resistance using food as medicine. Cyrus earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, then earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, a featured speaker at the Plant-Based Nutrition and Healthcare Conference (PBNHC), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) Conference, Plant Stock, and has been featured on Forks Over Knives, NPR, PBS, KQED, Fast Company, and is the author of the upcoming book Mastering Diabetes.
- Cyrus Khambatta