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    Guidelines for Buying and Using Diabetes Supplies

    Diabetes is a lifelong condition. Because it is, you can have major health problems if you don't keep blood glucose under control. That's why fully understanding how to buy and properly use diabetes testing supplies as well as diabetes medications is so important.

    Learning to regularly test your blood glucose level with a glucose monitor and to take diabetes medications when you are supposed to will make living with the condition much easier. With a little practice, you can self-manage diabetes just as you manage other aspects of your life. When you do, your quality of life and ability to be active and do the things you want to do will greatly improve.

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    Why is home blood glucose testing important?

    Home blood sugar (glucose) testing is an essential part of controlling your blood sugar and self-managing diabetes. Your diabetes educator can guide you in terms of how often to check your blood glucose and how to do it properly. Make sure the diabetes educator watches you use the glucose meter several times. That way, you can be sure you're doing it correctly. At a minimum, you'll be checking your blood sugar every morning before you eat. It's also advisable to check it before lunch and dinner and at bedtime. Your doctor may also ask that you test your blood one hour after eating.

    Blood glucose levels checked with blood taken from the fingertips will show important changes faster than glucose levels checked with blood taken from other sites on the body. The usual way to check blood sugar levels is by:

    1. Pricking the fingertip with a lancing tool -- a small, sharp needle
    2. Putting the blood drop on a test strip
    3. Placing the test strip into a glucose meter
    4. Reading the blood glucose level displayed on the meter

    If you take insulin, you might change the dose, depending on the reading.

    Checking blood glucose frequently allows you to avoid the dangerous consequences of extremely high spikes or dangerously low drops in blood sugar. Managing these spikes and drops quickly -- when treatment is most effective -- can save your life.

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