Daily Diabetes Care Kit
If you are someone living with diabetes, running out for a few minutes is never as simple as running out for a few minutes. When you leave the house, you must always remember to take those essential items needed to manage your diabetes with you. Forgetting to carry your diabetes management supplies and medication could lead to serious consequences, even if you only plan to be away for a short while.
One helpful tip to remembering what you should always carry with you is to create a personal diabetes toolkit. It might be a purse. It might be a backpack. It might be a clear plastic bag or a dedicated diabetic carrying case. The point is to have a specific and consistent method of taking all the things you need to be diabetes safe with you whenever you leave home. Whether headed to work, school, a night out with friends, or just popping into your local grocery store, it’s important to always carry your diabetes toolkit – even if you’re fairly certain you won’t be away for long. After all, you just never know.
So, what should go inside it? Here are our top 10 must–have items to include in your personal diabetes toolkit.
Insulin and other medications
Look, you never know when that short trip out might turn into an epic saga that ends up being a lot longer than you originally thought. Life is full of surprises, and they can come at you in countless forms – a crazy traffic jam, a stalled engine, running into an old friend, a delayed train or flight, or even just losing track of time while doing something fun. In other words, life happens and that’s okay if you’re prepared. For many of us with diabetes, that means making sure insulin and other diabetes medications are close at hand. If you’re delayed too long, perhaps even overnight, being without your insulin could result in severe and, in some cases, life threateningly high blood sugar levels.
If you require both long-acting and rapid-acting insulin, it’s important to carry both in your diabetes toolkit. Leave without your rapid-acting insulin and you won’t be able to correct blood sugar levels after eating. Forget your long-acting insulin and find yourself away from home for too many hours and you’ll miss your regularly scheduled dosage, which is never a good idea. Missing too many scheduled insulin injections can contribute too serious diabetes-related complications down the road.
Always take your insulin and other medications with you when you leave home and keep them by your side. Don’t leave them in the car, where heat or cold might compromise them. Carry your medications with you.
Glucose meter and test strips
It goes without saying that you can’t correct blood glucose levels unless you have proper testing equipment on you. For most people with diabetes, this means carrying a doctor-approved glucose meter and a supply of compatible test strips and lancets in your diabetes toolkit.
It’s always important to know where your blood sugar level is at prior to doing any sort of physical activity or even just going for nice drive. Also, if you start feeling the symptoms of high or low blood sugar while you’re out and about, the first step to getting it under control is going to be testing your blood glucose level.
Make sure you have plenty of test strips and lancets with you. It’s always wise to anticipate needing more than you’ll likely use because that way you’ll never run out of these diabetic supplies. Reusing lancets is never recommended, and a glucose meter without fresh test strips is about as useful as a smartphone with no charge. Additionally, if the same test strips have been in your kit for quite a while, be sure to check the expiration date on them and replace if necessary.
Syringes or pen needles
What good is carrying your insulin if you can’t administer it, right? Here’s a good tip. Take the number of insulin syringes or pen needles you use over a typical day and double it. For instance, if you take three treatments daily, be extra safe and carry six syringes or pen needles in your diabetes toolkit.
Portable sharps container
You never want to toss your used lancets, syringes or needles in public trash can or dumpster where they could potentially danger sanitation staff. Get yourself a portable sharps container to safely store used items until they can be disposed of properly.
Glucagon emergency kit
Hopefully, you’ll never need it, however, in case of an extreme and dangerous drop in blood sugar, it’s critical that you carry a glucagon emergency kit. Glucagon is used when you fall unconscious or are unable to swallow medications. Keeping good track of your blood sugar level should prevent such situations, but better to err on the side of caution. It’s also a good idea to educate your friends and family members who you might be hanging out with on how to administer glucagon. Also, be sure to check expiration dates. This drug has a shelf life of about one year.
Identification and insurance information
It’s always smart to carry a personal identification card that details your diabetes condition, your doctor’s name, emergency contact information, etc. For many people, it’s easier to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace, but that’s up to you. Also, be sure to have your medical insurance information close at hand in case of an emergency.
If you are away from home longer than you expect, there is a good chance you’re going to get hungry. Rather than pop into a fast-food joint or quickie mart for a snack that’s not too healthy and might spike your blood sugar level, take a few diabetic friendly snacks with you. Nuts, dried fruit, and trail mix are all great options.
Fast-acting glucose tabs
Having glucose tabs handy can help you avoid low blood sugar incidents. If your blood sugar drops unusually low, say below 70m/DL, taking three or four glucose tablets can help bring it back to your target level. Of course, you’ll need to retest your blood sugar level and take additional tabs as necessary until you are back in range.
Drinking a good amount of water is a smart idea for most people. However, since rising blood sugar can also cause excessive dehydration, it’s doubly important for those with diabetes to make sure that water is available. You might want to purchase stainless steel flask that you can fill with ice and water for a cool and refreshing drink anytime you need it.
Diabetes can cause skin to become dry and irritated. To relieve this symptom and avoid scratching and possibly causing scrapes or cuts, carry a travel-size moisturizer in your toolkit. Your best bet is to use a fragrance-free and dye-free lotion, which are easy to find. You might also consider a caring a small tube of antibiotic ointment that can help prevent infection on the off chance you do cut yourself.
So, there you have it, our top 10 items to include in a diabetes toolkit. Of course, it’s always a smart idea to talk with your diabetes physician and care team about exactly what to include in your personal kit. Hopefully, this post will provide you with a good place to get that conversation started.
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