What diabetic supplies do I need?
The diabetic supplies you need will depend on whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Your diabetes educator will advise you on what to buy. Generally, you will need:
- A glucose meter
- Lancing tools to collect blood samples
- Test strips
- Glucose tablets in case your blood sugar is low
- An emergency alert bracelet
If you have type 1 diabetes, you will need urine test strips. These measure a marker of low insulin called ketones. Additional optional supplies might include:
- A carrying case for your glucose meter
- Control solutions to make sure that your strips and meter are accurate
Why do I need to test my blood sugar at home?
Home blood sugar testing is critical for managing your diabetes.
Your diabetes educator will teach you how to check your blood sugar and advise you how often to test it. They should watch you use your glucose meter to make sure that you do it correctly.
Ideally, you should check your blood sugar before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and at bedtime. You might also be advised to test your blood sugar an hour after eating.
Regular readings are important to be aware of potentially dangerous changes in blood sugar. Managing these changes quickly could save your life.
How Do I Measure My Blood Sugar?
You will usually measure your blood sugar using blood from your fingertip. This is because the fingertip shows changes in blood sugar faster than other places on the body.
Your blood sugar level shows you when to take insulin, and how much. Checking your blood sugar involves four easy steps:
- Prick your finger with a needle called a “lancing tool”.
- Place a drop of blood on a test strip.
- Put the test strip into your glucose meter.
- Read the results (your blood sugar level) on the meter’s display.
Will My Insurance Cover The Cost of My Medications and Supplies?
Generally, yes. In the USA, 46 states require insurers to cover the cost of diabetes equipment, supplies, and medications. This is because diabetes costs the country an estimated $170 billion each year. It is also the sixth leading cause of death.
If you use Medicaid or Medicare, you should check online for more information. However, getting your insurance company to pay for some devices may take patience.
Does it matter how I store my diabetes medications?
The drug manufacturer and your diabetes educator will tell you how to store your medications. You might be advised to refrigerate insulin. Because injecting cold insulin can be painful, it is best to keep the vial being used at room temperature.
It will be safe and remain active under these conditions for a month. However, insulin should not be frozen or kept in a hot place. Many people with diabetes store their insulin with their glucose supplies. Test strips must also be protected from extreme hot and cold.
It is important to not run out of supplies or medications. Always be prepared for a potential emergency and plan ahead. You can store extra vials of insulin in the fridge until you need them.
What is a glucose meter?
Blood glucose meters are small, battery-powered, portable devices that measure your blood sugar level. They give you results quickly (in seconds).
A glucose meter will store your results. This allows you to show your doctor easily.
Advanced glucose meters will sync with your smartphone or computer, and show your results over time. You can use the data from your meter to adjust:
- Your diet, such as carbohydrate intake
- Your medication dose and dosing frequency
- How much exercise you do
Your diabetes educator will help you understand your results. They will also teach you how to modify your medications and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar under control.
Are all blood glucose meters the same? How do I know which one to buy?
All blood glucose meters measure your blood sugar. However, there are differences between them, and advantages and disadvantages to each. There is also a huge variation in price, depending on the features.
The most important concerns might be accuracy, rapid results, convenience, and cost. Other factors include the amount of blood needed, the size of the display, size, and portability. Some features are more important for different patients, such as children or the elderly.
How do I get my diabetic supplies?
All your supplies can be obtained from online or local pharmacies. This includes test strips, lancing tools, and blood glucose meters. Prices vary, so look for sales to get the best deal.
Using generic brand medications might also lower your costs.
How much will my supplies cost?
The cost of diabetic supplies can vary greatly. Most blood glucose meters cost $20–$100, depending on the features.
Patients generally also spend $100/month on test strips. Unfortunately, this is a necessary cost. Don’t be tempted to test your blood sugar less often to save money. However, if you ever have to many of them, you can sell diabetic test strips for money.
Your physician or diabetes educator must approve all changes to your testing regimen.
Diabetes is a life-long disease for which there is no cure. You will need these diabetic supplies and medications every day for life, so save money where you can. Here are some tips for making your money go further:
- Check for the best prices using online and offline retailers.
- But, use only reputable retailers.
- Do not use expired medications.
- Return expired vials to your pharmacy.
- Return and replace a glucose meter you think is inaccurate.
- Your life could depend on it.
- Use only unopened test strips.
- If you receive a box that is open or expired return it and ask for a replacement.
- Some manufacturers will replace expired test strips for new ones.
Can I use an insulin pump instead?
Insulin pumps keep your blood sugar at a steady level. However, they are expensive (around $6000). In addition to the pump, you will need monthly diabetic supplies such as insulin cartridges, dressings, tubing, and batteries.
Although pumps might save you money in the long run by preventing diabetic complications, the initial cost can be very high. Be sure to talk to your insurance company to make sure you will be reimbursed
How do I remember to monitor my blood sugar and take my medications?
The American Diabetes Association can help you cope with your diagnosis. They have a number of tips for helping you remember what you need to do:
- Monitor your blood sugar at the same time as other daily routine tasks, such as showering or brushing your teeth.
- Always store your supplies and medications in the same location.
- They will always be close when you need them.
- Take your medications and read your blood sugar at the same time each day.
- This will help it become a habit.
- Use a timer on your smartphone to set reminders.
What can help me manage my diabetes?
Modern technology has a number of tools to help you. Some glucose meters can sync your data to your computer or phone. This allows you and your physician to monitor the changes in your blood sugar over time. It will also allow your physician to see how well controlled your blood sugar is.
Devices are also available that monitor your blood glucose continuously. These systems increase your ability to make changes to your medications and lifestyle.