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Must-Haves if You Use Insulin continued...

Some syringes come with a magnifying lens. You can put it on the syringe to read the dosage easier. You can also get safety guards for shots and aids to help steady the needle when you are putting it in the insulin bottle or under your skin.

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. Sharps containers are not costly, though. Ask your local garbage removal service how to get rid 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) and you have symptoms of low blood sugar, 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. (If your meter reading is low but you have no symptoms, you should probably retest first to confirm your blood sugar is low, then proceed as above.)

You need to keep glucagon with you at all times. But why two kits? If you use one, you'll have another on hand in case an emergency happens before you can get to a drugstore. Glucagon expires in about a year. Keep track of the date so you can ask your doctor for a new prescription before it expires. Make sure that the people you're around the most know where you keep your glucagon and how to use it in case you pass out.

If you use an insulin pump, keep these supplies handy:

  • Rapid or fast-acting insulin
  • Infusion sets
  • Reservoirs to hold the insulin
  • Extra batteries
  • An emergency supply of syringes or insulin pens in the unlikely, but possible, event that the pump stops working

If you use an insulin pump, it's always good to have extra infusion sets on hand, because you need a new one every few days. And they do get yanked out sometimes. Some diabetes educators advise keeping an emergency syringe or pen and insulin in your purse or wallet if you pump.