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Must-Haves if You Use Insulin continued...

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.

Another important item to stock if you have type 1 diabetes is:

  • A home ketone test, to test for ketones in your urine or blood

This can help you know how well insulin is working to fuel cells. You can get home ketone test strips for urine at your local drugstore. Some of the newer home blood-sugar meters can also measure ketone levels in the blood. But the ketone test strip for meters is different than the one used for checking your blood sugar.

Diabetes Food Stash

To keep your blood glucose at good levels, it's a good idea to have:

  • Glucose tablets or other emergency sugar sources
  • Healthy snacks for between meals
  • Low-sugar drinks (including water) to stay hydrated

Keep a good supply of fast-acting sugars in several places -- such as a backpack, purse, gym locker, and car -- in case of sugar lows. Glucose tablets are easy to carry. Other possible sources include apple or orange juice or regular soda, or hard candies. Chocolate is not good because it takes longer to digest. If you live with other people, let them know these supplies are not for them to eat.