November 11, 2014

Purchasing and Using the Right Diabetes Supplies

With diabetes, you are in this for the long haul, no vacations, always something to be concerned about, and something to learn every day. It is a lifelong disease and therefore you must be on guard against major health problems if you do not maintain blood glucose management. This is the reason why it is necessary to understand and properly use diabetes testing supplies. Diabetes medications are also important. This WebMD article is written for both types of diabetes, but I am only concerned with type 2 diabetes.

Testing your blood glucose level and taking your diabetes medications (if not controlled by exercise and food) will help make living with diabetes much easier. Also, developing good habits in your battle with diabetes and maintaining a positive attitude will serve you well when moods of depression and the inevitable burnout happen. With the proper tools in your arsenal, you can self-manage diabetes. This can also help maintain quality of life and make most anything you want to do in life possible.

Home blood glucose testing is an essential part of controlling your blood glucose levels and self-managing diabetes. This is one time a meeting with a diabetes educator can be important. If one is not available, then maybe your doctor will work with you, or a better option may be your pharmacist. If all these fail, seek out the nearest diabetes support group for someone that might be available to assist you in learning self-monitoring of blood glucose.

Now we have areas of concern because Medicare and most insurance companies limit testing supplies so severely that many people become discouraged and stop testing. This is especially true for people on a limited budget. This is when it becomes necessary to write letters and investigate what programs the manufacturer of the meter has available. Another option is asking your doctor for an additional testing supplies letter to you insurance company for extra testing supplies for three to six months. Many insurance companies know that the first few months are critical in developing a food plan and learning how our bodies react to food and medications and will allow (or reimburse) for extra testing supplies.

Because everyone is different, you will need to develop your own food plan. Do not think that what works for someone else will work for you, as this is a plan for failure. You may be able to adapt their food plan, but always look to what your body tolerates to adapt a food plan that works for you. Part of developing your food plan is using your test strips before meals and after meals (an average of 90 minutes after), but you may need to test several times starting at 30 minutes and testing every 15 to 30 minutes until the first decline in your reading.

What supplies will you need, will depend on the medication you are using. The list could include:

  • A glucose meter
  • Test strips
  • Lancets to pierce your finger for a blood sample
  • Lancing device to hold the lancets
  • Glucose tablets
  • Emergency alert bracelet (a must if you use sulfonylureas or insulin that cause lows or hypoglycemia)
  • Syringes for insulin (you won't need them if you are prescribed insulin pens)
  • Cotton swabs or tissues for wiping blood off your fingers after wicking blood into the test strip
  • Alcohol pads to clean the finger for lancing if you are not where you can wash your hands before lancing your fingertips (actually the side of your finger)

There may be other supplies you'll want to purchase, such as control solutions (for checking the test strips to see if they are still in range and not bad- you will occasionally have a vial of bad strips) or specialty items like carrying cases.

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