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Guidelines for Buying and Using Diabetes Supplies

What diabetes supplies do I need?

Depending on the type of diabetes you have -- type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes -- you'll need to purchase:

  • A glucose meter
  • Test strips
  • Lancets to pierce your finger for a blood sample
  • Urine test strips to measure ketone levels (for type 1 diabetes)
  • Glucose tablets
  • Emergency alert bracelet

There may be other supplies you'll want to purchase, such as control solutions or specialty items like carrying cases.

What do I need to know about glucose meters?

Portable glucose meters are small devices operated by batteries. There are many blood glucose-monitoring systems available. Each brand and type has advantages and disadvantages. In addition, glucose meters range substantially in price, depending on the particular features you want. Some of the features to consider are convenience, quick response, and accuracy.

Keep in mind that some glucose meters require more blood than others. This is a big concern for very young children or for elderly people with diabetes. Some meters have a larger digital readout -- an important consideration for older individuals or people with poor vision. And there are glucose meters that give results much faster than others, which can make them more convenient. Other differences may include portability, size, and cost.

Today, blood glucose meters can usually provide results in 15 seconds or less and can store this valuable information for you and your doctor. These meters can also calculate an average blood glucose level over a period of time. Some glucose meters also feature software kits that retrieve information from the meter and display graphs and charts of your past test results on a computer or cell phone.

Using the results from a glucose monitor, you can make daily adjustments in:

  • The medications you take -- for instance, how much insulin you need
  • Your dietary choices -- counting carbs
  • Your exercise regimen
  • Physical activities

These results from the meter can be saved and shown to your doctor at each office visit. Your doctor and diabetes educator can then more easily guide you in learning how to respond to blood glucose changes with insulin and diet.

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