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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes: Items You Need to Manage Your Health

You can manage your diabetes better and with less stress if you know that you've got everything you need to care for it. 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're a young adult just starting to live on your own or are new to caring for an older person with diabetes, this guide can help you start off on the right foot.

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Glucose Monitoring Supplies

A glucose monitoring kit helps you track the sugar levels in your blood. It lets you know when they are getting high or low. Many kits include:

  • Glucose testing strips
  • A monitor, which usually gives readouts within 5 seconds
  • A carrying case for the meter and, if you take insulin, your insulin, pens, needles, and alcohol swabs
  • Lancets and lancing devices
  • Liquid kits, to make sure your meter readings are correct

Some kits include other items, like a clear cap for testing on different parts of your body. All monitors have a memory feature that keeps track of your past glucose readings. Some will compute your daily average blood sugar.

If you have problems with your eyesight, some monitors have a voice function that tells you how to check your sugar and gives you your test result. Some monitors also have a larger font size. Contact the National Federation for the Blind for a list of products that can help.

If your kit doesn't include one, it's useful to also have:

Must-Haves if You Use Insulin

If you inject insulin for your diabetes, you'll want to have these supplies on hand:

  • Insulin
  • Syringes, or disposable or reusable insulin pens
  • Needles
  • A sharps container for safely disposing of needles
  • Glucose tablets or gels
  • 2 glucagon shot kits

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, store bottles that aren't open in the refrigerator until they expire. You may need to store pens or cartridges another way -- ask your pharmacist. You can bring cold insulin to room temperature just before using it so you have less pain and irritation. Or you can keep a bottle you're using at room temperature for up to a month. But after a month, throw out any opened insulin that isn't used.

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