If you or someone you care for has recently been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, this article is for you to get familiar with the necessary supplies. These items will help you to manage your diabetes and avoid complications.
Learning to manage your blood sugar levels can also help you to alleviate any symptoms you’ve been experiencing. Read on as we walk through what you may need, talk about brands that many people rely on, and explain how to monitor and manage your condition.
Many supplies can be bought at local pharmacies and online. Some brands and services to be aware of include:
- US Med. Through the US Med website, the company sells a full line of supplies for diabetes management.
- Advanced Diabetes Supply (ADS). Accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy for standards of pharmacy care and licensing, ADS is focused on durable medical devices and accessories for diabetes management.
Manufacturers of some devices will work with you through customer agents to answer questions and sell you devices directly.
If you have insurance, experts say one of the best ways to source supplies is to start through your health insurance to see what’s covered.
There are two main ways to measure blood glucose levels:
The first option is to use a glucometer, which is a traditional fingerstick testing device.
After washing your hands thoroughly, you’ll insert a test strip into the meter. Then you’ll wipe a fingertip with an alcohol swab to clean it and use a lancing device to prick your finger to produce a drop of blood. Finally, you’ll touch the test strip to the blood, and the meter will provide a blood glucose reading.
Most monitors will keep a record of your glucose readings, which may include your averages. You can also use a record book or app to track your readings. If you have vision concerns, select a device with a voice function and a large font option.
Keeping track of these levels over time is what helps you and your health team get a picture of how your care plan is working and if changes should be made.
Consider the Care Touch Blood Glucose Monitoring System.
Continuous glucose monitoring
Another option is to use a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device. This is a portable electronic device that inserts a sensor in your arm or belly so you can continuously track your blood sugar levels.
Consider the Dexcom G6 CGM.
To avoid complications from diabetes, it helps to accurately monitor your glucose levels.
Learn how closely you need to monitor your levels
Talk to your doctor to find out how often you need to test your blood sugar. This will depend on the type of diabetes you have and how manageable it is to keep your levels stable.
Try to keep notes
Keep a record of your daily results and details such as foods you ate, physical activity, and sleep patterns. You can also note any medications that you take, along with changes to your daily routine. Pay attention to how your body reacts to all of these factors and make adjustments as necessary. If you have questions, reach out to your healthcare team.
Know your signs for low blood sugar
Signs of low blood sugar levels include feeling:
If you have type 1 diabetes, you will need to take insulin because your pancreas no longer produces insulin. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to manage your condition with diet and exercise alone, but you may need medication such as Metformin. In some cases, you may have to take insulin.
Your doctor can help you to decide which method of insulin therapy is best for you. You’ll need to learn how to administer insulin. Your healthcare provider can give you instructions, tips, and advice when you’re getting started. They’ll also tell you how often you’ll need to administer insulin.
If you use a syringe or insulin pen, you’ll need a clearly marked sharps container for safe needle disposal.
Injecting insulin using syringes is the least expensive option. In certain areas, you may buy needles and syringes without a prescription.
Insulin pens are available in two types:
- Disposable pens contain prefilled cartridges. You throw away the entire pen once you finish the cartridge.
- Reusable pens contain an insulin cartridge that you replace once it’s empty.
Insulin jet injector
Insulin jet injectors are a needle-free option that uses pressure to spray insulin through your skin. This device contains an injector, a disposable nozzle, and a disposable insulin vial adapter.
An insulin pump is a device that attaches to your clothing. It connects to a catheter that’s placed under your skin with a needle, which is known as the infusion site. The device gives you regular doses of insulin, which allows you to have better control over your blood sugar levels. You will need to give yourself a dose of insulin each time you eat.
If you use an insulin pump, always carry spare batteries as well as syringes or insulin pens in case it malfunctions. Make sure you have extra infusion sets at all times.
You may need to measure your ketone levels as part of managing your condition and preventing serious complications of diabetes.
Ketone test strips
To measure ketones in your urine or blood, you’ll need ketone at-home testing supplies, which are available online and in drugstores. To perform a urine test, urinate into a clean container, and place the test strip into the liquid.
Consider ketone test strips that you can buy from retailers like CVS.
Some blood sugar meters also measure ketone levels. You will still need a separate ketone test strip. Prick your finger and place a drop of blood onto the testing strip.
See your doctor if you have high ketone levels, especially if it’s a common occurrence.
Consider a glucose monitoring kit such as the NovaMax Plus, which includes a glucometer and glucose and ketone test strips.
Indications of high ketone levels include
- blood sugar levels greater than 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- a dry mouth
- feeling sick
- difficulty breathing
- frequent urination
- flushed skin
- a fruity odor to your breath
- To keep your skin from over-drying, avoid hot showers and baths.
- Always keep your skin clean and dry.
- Use moisturizing soaps, mild shampoo, and skin moisturizer.
- Avoid putting moisturizer between your toes because this can promote fungal growth.
- During cold, dry weather, bathe less frequently and use a humidifier in your home.
Diabetes can contribute to skin concerns, so be sure to treat cuts or wounds immediately. After cleaning the affected area with soap and water, use a doctor-approved antibiotic cream or ointment. Use sterile gauze and cloth bandages to cover the wound.
- Use toenail scissors and a nail file to maintain your nails.
- Use a magnifying lens to check your feet for sores, cuts, or corns.
- Use a mirror to look at the bottom of your feet and in between toes.
- Wear well-fitting broad, flat shoes.
- Consider wearing socks that are moisture-wicking, seamless, and padded.
- Try not to walk barefoot outside.
To ensure you’re able to maintain blood glucose levels, keep a stash of food containing glucose or simple carbohydrates in places such as your car, work station, and bedside table.
Ideas for items to include:
- glucose tablets or gels
- nuts and seeds
- dried fruit
- trail mix
- whole-grain crackers
- apple or orange juice
- regular soda
You may choose to wear a diabetes medical alert bracelet or necklace. It can provide information to paramedics or doctors if you require medical treatment and are unable to communicate. This identification may include that you take insulin, allergies you might have, and your emergency contact information.
Have diabetes supplies to last you at least 3 days. This way, you’ll be prepared for inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
Compare local pharmacies for the lowest prices
Some pharmacies may have rewards programs that offer prescription discounts. They may also sell glucometers and strips that are cheaper than name brand options. You can also shop for your supplies online.
Manufacturers and stores may have coupons, too.
Tools like GoodRX allow you to look up medications to find coupons and local pharmacies.
Work with insurance when you can
Medicare will provide the majority of coverage for diabetic supplies and services. You can purchase a supplemental plan to pay for some of your costs.
Stock up during discounts
Stock up when there are special offers and buy in bulk if it’s cheaper.
Ask healthcare professionals for ideas
Talk to your healthcare team to find out about discount programs that offer free or inexpensive medicine. They may also provide you with samples of new products.
Additionally, make sure you’re testing the correct number of times. Follow your doctor’s advice so that you’re not testing too often.
After learning that you have diabetes, it’s vital to take charge of your health. Arm yourself with the supplies and knowledge needed to navigate the terrain of diabetes management. Reach out to a healthcare professional if you need advice or are unsure about any of the details.