Diabetes is now considered a common lifestyle disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Early detection and proper monitoring and management are crucial to avoid complications, including skin problems, like delayed wound healing and vision problems, such as diabetic neuropathy. Neglected diabetes may also result in kidney and liver problems due to excessive amounts of sugar or glucose in the blood, which can alter organ functions.
Diabetic patients should always prepare essential items to better manage this lifetime medical condition. In this article, you’ll learn the important things you have to prepare at all times if you or your loved one has diabetes, whether at home or when traveling.
Blood Sugar Monitoring Supplies
Because the increase in blood glucose is the main problem in diabetes due to insulin or pancreatic problems, every diabetic patient should have a complete blood glucose monitoring kit. It is used in tracking blood sugar levels, letting you know if your blood glucose is too high, too low, or normal. There are blood sugar monitoring kits that include other items, such as a clear cap for blood sugar testing on various body parts.
Nowadays, modern glucometers have a memory feature and monitor so patients can keep track of previous glucose readings. Others even have the capability to compute the daily average blood glucose level. If you or your loved one has vision problems, choose a glucometer with a larger font size. Some glucometer monitors have a built-in voice function that tells you how to check your blood glucose levels and gives you the results right away.
A blood glucose monitoring kit should include the following supplies:
- Glucometer or glucose monitor: This device is used to read blood sugar levels; it usually gives readouts within five seconds.
- Glucose testing strips: These are where the blood drop is put for the glucometer to determine blood sugar levels.
- Lancets and lancing devices: Make sure to choose reliable lancets, like PipLancets, to avoid repeating pricking your skin.
- Kit case: It’s good if you have a dedicated case for your glucometer.
- Insulin: If you’re dealing with type 1 diabetes, make sure that you have insulin, syringes, needles, pens, and alcohol swabs for a more convenient blood glucose monitoring. Store unopened insulin bottles in the refrigerator. Let cold insulin sit at room temperature before you use it for less irritation and pain.
- Home ketone test kit: This one is available in local drug stores. Some blood glucose meters have ketone testers that use ketone test strips, which are different from glucose test strips. It is used to test the blood or urine for ketones, which are byproducts of fat metabolism. It helps you determine how well your insulin works in energizing the cells.
- Other Essentials: It’s good to have a record book where you can document your blood sugar levels. Also, glucose tablets and gels, and two glucagon shot kits are important to avoid hypoglycemia or low blood sugar and its fatal complications.
Note: It is best to buy extra supplies of syringes and needles, as well as insulin, to save more money on shipping fees. Doing this will also qualify you for bulk discounts. After a month of not being used, you need to dispose of opened insulin bottles.
For patients with type 1 diabetes, an insulin pump is a must-have as it provides bolus insulin doses before each meal. It mimics normal pancreatic functioning, which is worn on a pocket or a belt. For those who wear an insulin pump or take insulin shots, having a sharps container is important for safe disposing of needles and the following supplies:
- Extra batteries: Use these as a replacement once the old ones have drained out.
- Infusion sets: Every few days, you need a new infusion set if you’re using an insulin pump, so keeping a few pieces at home would be a good idea.
- Insulin pens and cartridges: If ever your insulin pump stops working, it’s good to have pens and cartridges available.
- Rapid or fast-acting insulin: Ask your doctor about the best insulin to take in various life situations. Fast-acting insulin has a fast absorption rate and takes effect quickly, too, to help lower spiking blood sugar levels. Diabetic patients should eat no more than five to 15 minutes after rapid-acting insulin injection because of its fast onset.
- Reservoir: It is used to hold the insulin.
Diabetes Emergency Food Stash
So what do you do if your blood sugar level is low? If your blood glucose falls below 70 mg/dL, it’s hypoglycemia. So, watch out for the early signs and symptoms of low blood sugar, like hunger, heart racing, nausea, trembling, and sweating. Also, pay close attention to worsening symptoms of hypoglycemia, like confusion or abnormal behavior, blurred vision and other visual disturbances, seizures, and inability to complete routine tasks.
If you have these symptoms, take three to four glucose tablets or a serving of glucose gel, and wait for 15 minutes before checking your blood glucose again. Take the same amount of glucose tablets or glucose gel and continue testing until your blood glucose levels return to normal.
These food stash items are essential for diabetes patients:
- Glucose tablets, glucose gels, or other emergency sugar sources
- Fast-acting sugars, such as orange or apple juice, or regular soda (avoid chocolates because they take longer to digest)
- Water and low-sugar drinks to stay hydrated
- Healthy snacks taken between meals
Diabetes Emergency Must-Haves
Diabetes emergency includes loss of consciousness due to hypoglycemia and extremely high blood sugar levels resulting in hypertension. People around, most especially healthcare workers, should be given warning of your condition before performing any medical intervention.
Here are the diabetes emergency must-haves you should prepare:
- Medical alert ID: It may come as a medical alert necklace, bracelet, or card, stating that you have diabetes.
- Emergency contact information: You can include the name of your spouse, adult children, doctor, caregiver, or anyone you want to get contacted in case of an emergency.
- Diabetes supplies in waterproof containers: The American Diabetes Association highly recommends storing diabetes supplies that are good for three days in case of emergencies, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes. Keep diabetes stash and glucose tablets in your purse, backpack, car, and gym bag to quickly resolve low sugar levels.
Diabetes Skin Care Supplies
Because diabetes can affect any part of the body, it’s crucial to care for your skin. Maintaining skin integrity is vital in diabetes management to avoid skin complications associated with the disease, particularly gangrene and necrosis that usually starts in a small cut or wound.
Having said that, it’s crucial to prevent skin dryness and infections. But, how do you actually take care of your skin if you have diabetes?
Any diabetic patient should have the following skincare items:
- Skin moisturizer
- Mild shampoo
- Hypoallergenic, mild, and moisturizing soap
- Antibiotic ointment or cream (as per doctor’s advice)
- Wound care supplies, including sterile gauze, cloth bandages, and paper tape for wounds, abrasions, and cuts
Diabetes Foot Care Supplies
Foot care is an essential aspect of diabetes management. Effective foot care helps avoid foot problems that may lead to severe complications, like gangrene and, in the worst case, amputation of the affected part.
As much as possible, you should be the one to handle foot care, unless you’re debilitated or disabled. If you’re planning to have a pedicure or a foot spa treatment, make sure that the spa staff is informed that you have diabetes. Special foot care is required for diabetes patients, avoiding the use of harsh chemicals, scrubs, and the likes.
Make sure you have the following foot care supplies:
- Toenail scissors
- Nail file or emery board
- Mirror to help inspect your feet for abrasion, cuts, or blisters
- Comfortable, seamless, and padded socks for foot nerve damage
Diabetes Dental Care Supplies
Diabetic patients have an increased risk of developing gum disease and other oral problems. Preparing your dental care supplies to manage diabetes is important because oral mucous is more sensitive and prone to sores and damage among diabetic patients.
Check out these dental care supplies for your daily mouth care:
- Soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush: Avoid toothbrush with stiff bristles as this can hurt the gums. Experts advise replacing the toothbrush when you notice that the bristles are already worn, or every three to four months.
- Fluoride toothpaste: Make sure that the fluoride toothpaste is ADA-approved.
- Dental Floss: It gets rid of food particles and plaque below the gum line and between teeth.
- Antiseptic mouthwash: Use mild or alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse your mouth daily.
Diabetes App and Weighing Scale
Weight management is essential when dealing with diabetes. Controlling weight would mean controlling your blood glucose and blood pressure. Diabetes apps and weighing scales can help you better manage your nutrition and weight.
Diabetes management involves blood glucose monitoring, skincare, foot care, and dental care. For blood sugar monitoring, never miss investing in a well-functioning blood glucose meter, lancet pens, and glucose strips. For skincare and foot care, use hypoallergenic products to avoid disrupting skin integrity, as well as to keep yourself safe from cuts and wounds that may result in gangrene and, in the worst case, amputation.
For dental health, make sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and alcohol-free mouthwash to avoid hurting your gums and oral mucosa. The bottom line is that you need to prepare all the essential items you need depending on the type of diabetes you or your loved one has