Living with a chronic condition such as diabetes can be stressful. Knowing that you've got everything you need to care for your diabetes can help you manage your health better and reduce stress. You'll also know you're prepared in case of diabetes emergencies.
Use this guide to diabetes care supplies to help make sure you're always well stocked. If you are a young adult just beginning to live independently or a new caregiver to an older person with diabetes, this guide can help you get off on the right foot.
Glucose Monitoring Supplies
A glucose monitoring kit helps you track the sugar levels in your blood so that you know when they are getting high or low. Many kits include:
- Glucose testing strips
- A monitor, which usually gives readouts within five seconds.
- A carrying case for the meter and, if you take insulin, your insulin, pens, needles, and alcohol swabs
- Lancets and lancing devices
Some kits include other features, such as a clear cap for testing on different areas of the body. All monitors have a memory feature that keeps track of your past glucose readings. Some will compute your daily average blood sugar.
For those with visual problems, some monitors have a voice function that will instruct you on how to check your sugar and give you an audible test result.
If your kit doesn't include one, it's useful to also have:
- A record book for tracking your blood glucose levels
Essentials if You Use Insulin
If you inject insulin for your diabetes, you'll want to have these supplies on hand:
- Syringes or disposable or reusable insulin pens
- A sharps container for safe disposal of needles
- Glucose tablets or gels
- 2 glucagon injection kits
Some specialized syringes come with a magnifying lens that's placed on the syringe to help with dosage reading. Injection safety guards and needle aids are available to help keep the needle steady when you are inserting it into the insulin bottle or injecting it under your skin.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to buy needles and syringes in bulk without a prescription. If you buy extra supplies of insulin to cut costs, make sure to keep them in the refrigerator. You can keep a bottle you're using at room temperature for up to a month. This is helpful if you find that injecting cold insulin is more painful.
If you don't have a sharps container, you can re-cap used needles and put them in a heavy-duty opaque (not clear) plastic bottle. But sharps containers are very inexpensive. Ask your local garbage removal service how to dispense of syringes and needles safely.
Glucose tablets and gels can help you avoid low blood sugar. If your blood sugar is low (below 70 mg/dL), you can take 3-4 glucose tablets or one serving of glucose gel. Wait about 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar levels again. If they are still low, take another 3-4 glucose tablets or a serving of glucose gel. Continue testing and treating in the same way until your blood sugar levels are normal.