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What should you know about insulin supplies for diabetes?

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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. 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 you haven't used.

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.

SOURCES:

Children's Diabetes Foundation at Denver: "Shopping List - Supplies for College or Living on Your Own."

Donald Kain, MA, RD, LD, CDE, outreach coordinator, Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.

Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE, research investigator, department of medical education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.

American Diabetes Association: "Insulin Storage and Syringe Safety;" "Tips for Emergency Preparedness;" "Skin Care;" "Foot Care;" "Brush and Floss;" and Oral Health and Hygiene: Frequently Asked Questions."

American Diabetes Association Planet D: "Hypoglycemia."

Diabetes Blood Sugar Solutions: "Insulin Pump Supplies."

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger on February 18, 2018

SOURCES:

Children's Diabetes Foundation at Denver: "Shopping List - Supplies for College or Living on Your Own."

Donald Kain, MA, RD, LD, CDE, outreach coordinator, Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.

Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE, research investigator, department of medical education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.

American Diabetes Association: "Insulin Storage and Syringe Safety;" "Tips for Emergency Preparedness;" "Skin Care;" "Foot Care;" "Brush and Floss;" and Oral Health and Hygiene: Frequently Asked Questions."

American Diabetes Association Planet D: "Hypoglycemia."

Diabetes Blood Sugar Solutions: "Insulin Pump Supplies."

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger on February 18, 2018

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What should I keep in mind daily about meals if I use insulin?

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